Gospel

SERMON LEFTOVERS 5.15.17

Love for the Gospel Shapes How We Live

 

1 Corinthians 9

Last week, we saw principles that guide how we exercise our rights and freedoms. The Apostle Paul continues this theme at length!  But now he uses his own example to show that serving the Gospel shapes his priorities and lifestyle

Paul Starts By Reminding Them of His Position v1

He was an Apostle: the highest office in the church

A requirement of being an Apostle is to be a witness of the risen Christ. Paul says, “I saw him!”

He was not just an Apostle he was their Apostle vs1-2

In Acts 18, Paul founded the church in Corinth; and he spent 1½ years teaching them

He Understood His Rights in Christ v1 “Am I not free?”

Many in the church struggled to understand their freedoms; but not Paul, he knew them well

 

Yet, He Wants Them to Know the Rights He Gave Up

There are three areas in which Paul gave up his rights

1.  The right to eat food sacrificed to idols as mentioned in chapter 8 and possibly here in v4

2.  The right to have a wife v5 – Paul embraced singleness as he describes in chapter 7

3.  The right to be paid for laboring to serve churches v6

Paul keeps his focus on this last right

He gives four proofs that he has the right to be paid for serving the church

1.  Being paid for your service is a principle that is obvious to the world v7

2.  The Old Testament law affirmed this principle v8

3.  This was the practice for those who work in all temples v13; whether Jewish or pagan

4.  It was commanded by Jesus v14 (Luke 10:7 ‘a laborer deserves his wages’)

He goes into detail about his rights in order to dramatize his refusal of them

 

Why Would the Apostle Paul Give Up Obvious ‘Rights’?

The gospel is a greater purpose than clinging to our rights

He repeats this idea three times: v12, v15 and v18

In vs 12-18 he refers to ‘the gospel’ seven times

Each time, he exalts the value of the gospel to dictate how he lives

Can you say the gospel motivates your priorities?

What is the gospel and why is it worth sacrificing rights and privileges?

Gospel means good news: it involves incomparable events, and it provides unequalled hope

The gospel so thrilled Paul, he made himself a servant to it v19

He was not just willing to live this way, he was eager to do so

The gospel had captured Paul’s heart and he wanted it for everyone else!

This made Paul flexible in how he dealt with people vs 20-22

What point is Paul making?  ‘Servants’ adapt to those they serve

He is not telling us to compromise beliefs, but to compromise our preferences

Love leads us to become comfortable with the people around us

Serving Christ and his gospel shaped how Paul lived vs 24-27

All that Paul claimed to believe about God actually led how he lived

He lived with self-control v25

This is not a negative concept, being out of control is

Just as exercise shapes our physical body, godly discipline shapes our soul  Bible reading, prayer, community

He had direction v26

He was not “aimlessly” reacting to every new situation

We are Christians, we follow a Person; and he is consistent, faithful, and wise

His heart was filled with the joy of serving Christ!

Look at his language: v18 reward, v23 share blessing, v24 the prize

Paul lived to please God and that brought joy to his heart

Have you lost perspective about where goodness is found?

How will you respond to Christ and his gospel?

Do you need this gospel?  Christ is here to save – don’t push him away

For those who have the gospel – is your heart dry? Is your life aimless?

HOW DO WE ENGAGE ROTTENNESS?

When I was a small boy, we had trash cans and a separate garbage pail for food scraps. I hated opening the garbage pail because of the noxious odor that came out and the disgusting writhing mass of maggots on display in it.

That childhood memory comes quickly to mind when I think of the course of our “culture” today.

There is a lot of discussion about engaging our culture, but I think I find more agreement with Carl Truman who recently pointed out that we no longer have a true culture to engage!  He writes,

Let’s face it: We now live in a world where refusing a man the right to expose himself in a woman’s toilet is enough to risk your city losing the right to host a football game.

Trueman who is a world class theologian and an excellent writer, refers to this problem as “The Rise of the Anti-culture”, which is also the title of this article.

The answer is not to withdraw our voices, but the Church needs to think more clearly about what it often calls cultural engagement. Too often this simply means trying to look enough like the world that they are comfortable with us. But how can we consider trying to be comfortable with a world whose values are looking more like my childhood garbage pail?

We cannot lessen our engagement with people despite their sin or brokenness, for Christ came to save them – and only by grace are we still not one of them. But the world has drawn lines of anti-culture that we cannot even come close to mimicking, let alone crossing.

If by engaging the culture, we mean talking to them about light – truth – and the gospel; then engage with all the gusto you can muster. But if by engagement, we think we can mix biblical truth with current cultural perspectives, we will end up with a confused mess of ‘spirituality’ rather than gospel clarity.

This is a confusion we cannot accept, for the gospel in its glorious purity alone has the power to save!

“I’M NOT DEFENSIVE!”

calvin-and-hobbes

“I’m Not Being Defensive!”

This is one of the most common statements made by people who are in the midst of being defensive. It’s like people who angrily say, “I’m not angry!”

Being defensive is a common problem, because it comes out of self-centeredness, an area in which most of us are well gifted. Yes, that was a wee bit sarcastic.

When we are defensive, it not only leads to unnecessary conflict with people, it also makes it much harder to resolve conflict with people.

As people of the gospel, the only agenda we have been given for people is that of gospel reconciliation. We will not be able to fulfill that agenda with everyone, but it remains our goal at all times.

We see this truth of Christian living clearly laid before us by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:17-20:

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

If we are to be seriously engaged in Great Commission and Great Commandment living, then we must labor at identifying and rooting out our expressions of defensiveness. Otherwise we are operating in the world perhaps with morality, but not out of the gospel.

Gavin Ortlund helps in this difficult task, with his article “Repentance vs. Defensiveness”. Gavin begins by clarifying what defensiveness looks like.

•  A defensive heart says, “But look at what I did right!” (diversion)
•  A defensive heart says, “But look at what was done to me!” (distraction)
•  A defensive heart says, “It wasn’t that bad” (downplaying)

I will add, to Gavin’s list, that a defensive heart says, “I am not defensive, so this article doesn’t apply to me” (denial)

SERMON LEFTOVERS 4.18.16

‘Reconciliation is not Optional’       

 

A major theme in Philippians is unity with one another and in mission (1:27). In chapter 4 Paul addresses two leading women in the church whose conflict threatened both of these

Philippians 4:1-3

 

We Don’t Know the Reason for Their Conflict

But it was serious: it is a rare step for Paul to correct people in a church by name

And it was affecting the whole church: this correction is addressed in a letter to the whole church

When members of ‘the body’ are in disharmony, the church will be weakened

The women were living in contradiction to the heart of the entire letter

1:27 tells us to live worthy of the gospel – but they were not

2:4 says don’t look out merely to your own interests – but they were

 

Look How Paul Approaches Reconciliation

1.  Paul approaches them with an abundance of grace (v1)

This is how God approached us in order to reconcile us to himself and it continues to be how he deals with us

We are acting hypocritically when we brush graciousness aside

The reality of the sin in these women didn’t override the reality of how Paul loved them; and the reality that Paul loved them didn’t override the need to confront their sin

Our approach to reconciliation doesn’t imitate Christ, if it is not filled with grace

2.  Paul addresses the women equally and earnestly (v2)

Paul didn’t pick sides, or even deal with the outward issue

The rightness of one or other was secondary to the wrongness of their conflict

Each had a heart condition that needed be addressed – they were holding on to an offense

Each had an attitude to change – they thought the other was unworthy of fellowship (grace)

Each had actions to take – to forgive completely and forever

Biblical reconciliation requires careful biblical self-examination

3.  Paul wants them to see their “situation” in its true context (v3)

This was a gospel issue – they were gospel recipients (“names in the book of life”)

Mission of church issue – gospel workers (“labored side by side in the gospel”)

All who are ‘in Christ’ are gospel people; reconciliation is now in our DNA (2 Corinthians 5:17-20)                  

The world needs us  not to allow anything to dilute “the ministry reconciliation”

The glory of Christ’s work in the gospel deserves that we live out “the message of reconciliation”

We are inconsistent with the gospel, if our heart is not reconciled

 

Paul Gives 3 Commands For Reconciliation

1.  Stand firm in the Lord (v1)

This is the same command he gave in 1:27 to “live worthy of Christ”

If they are to respond correctly, it will be because they are rooted “in the Lord”

They have to lay aside their offense, and take up Christ

They need to refocus how they see each other, and use “the Lord’s” perspective

If we don’t approach each other “in the Lord”, instead of “standing firm”, we are drifting

 2.  Agree in the Lord (v2)

This doesn’t mean we have to agree with the other person

It means we agree that what we share “in the Lord” should keep us in fellowship

We remember that we share the same standards of love and humility (2:1-4)

We recognize that we will share the same eternity that will be completely free of disharmony

3.  Help them to agree (v3)

The verb “help” indicates strong action. It is elsewhere translated ‘seize’ and ‘grasp’

Whether the “true companion” refers to a person or the church community, it lets us know that we have a role to help reconcile fellow-believers

Hopefully we can help informally through prayer and encouragement

But if this doesn’t work, then church leaders are required to step in

If we ignore infection in the body, then biblical community will fail

TESTIMONY OF A CHANGED LIFE

On Easter, Mike Frampus who grew up in Greentree and then drifted far from church and God, gave this testimony of God’s grace to save him. Mike has a history of significant problems with anxiety – so just standing before everyone to share his story was a wonderful work of God!

Good morning,

Dana called me a few weeks ago and asked me to come up here and give my testimony. She had prepared me beforehand and let me know that she would do that one day, so of course I said yes.

After I hung up the phone, I began to search online out-of-state job sites, because now that someone had asked me to get up and speak in front of the church, obviously it was time to pack up my family and move as far away as possible to begin anew somewhere else.

You see, I have something that I’m sure some of you know a little about….fear of man. Not only that, but Satan desires for me to be ineffective for God’s kingdom, and so I wanted to give 10,000 reasons why I could not do this.

But then I thought of Moses and Jonah and all the other sinful men that God used for his glory, and the only thing I could say in my heart was: “Here am I. Send me!” So I’m here this morning to give you a very brief glimpse into the power of God.

I grew up attending Greentree Church as a child and being in Sunday school. I was even baptized as a teenager right here behind me, which by the way was the last time that I ever fit into a tub. It wasn’t long, however, until I decided that I wanted to take control of my life and do things my way.

I began at an early age to experiment with alcohol and marijuana, and these things helped me to become more comfortable in a world where I felt as if I didn’t really belong anywhere. I began to believe whole-heartedly that every moment of every day was meant to be lived for my pleasure. So I ran hard after sin towards death until God was no longer even an afterthought.

Initially I was convicted in my heart as I did whatever I thought might bring me joy, but as I graduated to harder drugs I was able to quiet that voice inside a little more effectively. The more I tried to run the more broken I became.

My partying lifestyle began to affect every area of my life, as I began high school getting straight A’s only to struggle just to pass my senior year. I couldn’t wait to get out and really start living…or dying as it turns out.

I used heroin for the very first time when I was 17 years old. Although it was not necessarily love at first sight, in just a couple of short years I would be sticking a needle into my veins, and experienced a rapid downhill decline. I began committing crimes to support my heroin addiction, and I began to steal from the only ones in my life that cared about me.

I have experienced overdose, been through treatments, been to jail, I’ve been robbed and pistol-whipped, and I even sailed across an interstate highway and off the shoulder of the road at more than 75 mph. There have been literally thousands of times in my life where I could have easily died one way or another, and at times in my life I even wished for death.

But God, in His great love and mercy looked upon my helpless state…and led me to the cross. By His amazing grace I have not used drugs and alcohol for over ten years. I am now married to an awesome wife and have three wonderful children.

It is God who sustained me and continues to do so each day. He opened my blind eyes to see that Jesus has already paid the penalty for my sins and for any who would trust in Him. Through the blood of our precious Savior Jesus I have been brought from death to life and I have been made a new creation.

If, this morning you have a loved one that you’ve been praying for who you know is enslaved by this or any other sin, or perhaps it is you that are caught in this vicious cycle….cry out to the only one that saves. He is faithful.

THOUGH YOU HAVE NOT SEEN HIM, YOU LOVE HIM

I Peter 1 8-9

 

by Debbie Huber

“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8–9).

It is easy to tell my husband that I love him. My love for him is deepened when I think about how much he loves me. Our confidence in our love for each other is partly based on what we SEE each other demonstrate every day. It is a wonderful thing to be confident in someone’s love for you.

We do not see God but through faith we have great confidence in His love for us by what is revealed to us by our salvation and through His word.

Through our salvation, we are forgiven, set free from condemnation, a new creation, and partakers in His glorious nature! What love God has for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Reminding ourselves about the truths of our salvation and being thankful every day for our salvation only increases our love for Jesus.

The more we love and treasure Christ and His salvation, the more we desire to be with Him and cheerfully serve Him. This love should result in an “inexpressible joy, full of glory” that cannot be described in human terms and is not related to our circumstances.

Our lives can demonstrate this supernatural joy to those around us. May we know this joy in all its fullness and may it be a testimony to the work of Christ.

CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS WITH ETERNITY IN MIND

 

by Debbie Huber

You shall teach (the Scriptures) to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise (Deuteronomy 11:19).

Recently I asked my daughter, Elyse, what is the most memorable part of Christmas for her. She responded that it is the traditions that are the most memorable and meaningful. From decorating the tree together, the visits with family and friends, the Christmas Eve service at church, to the family reading of the Biblical account of Christmas on Christmas morning, the traditions stand out more than the presents.

In her book, “Treasuring God in our Traditions”, Noel Piper emphasizes that our traditions should reflect our hearts’ delight in God. These traditions don’t just happen; they happen because we live our lives everyday dependent on God and His Word. And then we plan to include our children in this lifestyle of dependency on God.

When we read and meditate on the Nativity, we cannot help but to be overcome with joy knowing that God Himself chose to be born as one of us…To live as one of us, yet without sin…and to die in our place for our sins. As this Gospel impacts us it overflows into the big and small moments of our lives.

There are many and varied traditions for our families at Christmas time. Some are more meaningful to us, drawing us to contemplate Jesus’ incarnation. Sometimes we have certain traditions because we have always done them that way or because everyone else seems to be doing it.

But in all of our traditions, do we reflect a gratitude to God for His amazing gift of His Son to us at Christmas? That because of Christ’s incarnation we have more than the fun of the moment, we have an incomparable hope! Jesus has rescued us from the punishment we deserve for our sins.

Do we delight in this, enthusiastically demonstrating it as we sit with our family in our houses, when we walk by the way, when we lie down, and when we rise up? This is teaching God’s word to our families through the impact that His word has on our lives. And this is what our children will remember about Christmas.

Noel Piper says it so well: “How will our home look if our celebration is a picture of anticipation and waiting for God’s plan to be completed, a picture of our joy, in the salvation he has begun for us? What visible things will fill our house as we celebrate what God has done through Jesus?”

 

We Have Life-Saving-Truth

by Debbie Huber

Recently while attending a banquet I heard someone at my table say, “look over there, someone is receiving the Heimlich Maneuver.”  Without thought or hesitation, I found myself at the side of this person ready to provide that life-saving assistance. 

As part of my job as an occupational therapist, I am trained and re-certified in CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver on a regular basis. Because we are retrained in the same techniques over and over, I was able to react without hesitation in a life threatening situation. Fortunately, the person in distress ended up being fine.

This situation made me ponder how I react with the life-saving truths of the gospel.

Everywhere I go there are people who are in great danger of being separated from God for eternity and I have the life-saving help for them!

Every day, we face situations such as difficult relationships with family or coworkers, children who cause heartache, financial stresses, broken down cars or appliances, the monotony of a job we do not like.  How does the gospel impact how we react in everyday situations?

The life-changing truth of the gospel can often seem separated from daily reality. But daily speaking the gospel to ourselves helps it to soak into our hearts so that it overflows to the point where the lavish, amazing, undeserved love of our Savior impacts every situation without hesitation.

Take the time everyday to thank God that through His death and resurrection you now have eternal life!  What an amazing reality that we were spiritually dead in our sins with no hope but that Jesus loves us so much that he snatched us from the grip of death and eternal separation from Him.

We are entrusted with this life saving knowledge of the gospel and if we do not share it, it is like knowing the Heimlich Maneuver and being afraid to use it because we might offend someone.

And when this life-transforming gospel is ingrained in our thoughts, it can’t help but overflow into our circumstances.  It transforms the words that come out of our mouths, our reactions and the way we view things, even when the circumstances do not change.

I Thessalonians 2:4 tells us “but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.”

We are entrusted with the gospel to speak it, to ourselves and to others, because this Gospel changes lives for eternity.

WHAT IS NECESSARY TO MAKE IT HAPPEN?

What is necessary for the gospel to be fulfilled in us? On one hand the answer is simple: we must trust in Christ as God’s payment for our sin.

However, from God’s side there is a long list of amazing and necessary actions that He had to fulfill

God had to desire it

God had to make provision to do it

The Son had to agree with it

God had to keep from destroying this evil world

God had to establish a covenant relationship with those who will believe

Eternal God has to become a man

A virgin had to give birth to him

Jesus had to be humanly worthy to represent us

Jesus had to obey the law and fulfill it in every way

Jesus had to love the Father with all his heart, mind, soul and strength

Jesus had to persist through the burdens of human weakness

Jesus had to overcome every temptation

Satan had to be defeated

When the moment arrived, Jesus had to be willing to accept the cross

The innocent Jesus had to be wrongly accuses

The just Jesus had to silently accept the history’s most unjust action

Jesus had to take upon himself the entirety of our guilt

The Father had to punish Jesus with the full force of his wrath for that sin

Jesus had to die

Death had to be conquered

The penalty for our sin had to be completely paid

The Father had to accept that payment

The dead body of Jesus had to be resurrected

Jesus had to be glorified with the glory he had in eternity past

The triune Godhead; Father, Son and Holy Spirit had to remain willing to save those who rejected Jesus and their gracious plan

God has to choose us

God has to be patient and withhold the judgment we already deserve

The Holy Spirit has to convict us

The Holy Spirit has to give us a new heart

God has to accept our cry

God has to justify us

God has to impute Jesus’ righteousness to us

The Father has to adopt us

God had to preserve the church in each generation so the gospel would go forth

The Holy Spirit has to preserve us in this world

God will have to resurrect and transform our bodies

The Holy Spirit will have to glorify us

All who remained in unbelief and sin will have to be separated and cast into hell

God will have to destroy and recreate heaven and earth

The eternal Kingdom of Christ will have to be opened to us

Christ will have to accept us as his Bride

God will have to eternally sustain our existence

We will have to enter into an eternal and perfect communion with the triune Godhead; Father, Son and Holy Spirit

Oh, praise the glorious name and faithfulness of the Lord our God!

WE CAN DO THIS

At Greentree Church (and most likely at your church), we want to be passionate about the role each of us has in sharing gospel truth with the people God puts on our path.

Some of us are self-motivated and have made this part of our lives, others (like me) are trying to improve, but we struggle with a mixture of fear, uncertainty and preoccupation.

How do we all make progress in this essential task which not is our mission and our job description, it is at the center of God’s heart?!

Pray for God to increase our heart for gospel work. This is not hard, so let’s all start here!

Be equipped. Our church has been giving focus to helping us learn how to be clear with the gospel and have direction with sharing this truth we know and that everyone needs

Build relationships. Be a listening, be attentive, be friendly – this is attractional to people and opens the way to sharing Christ.

My friend, Ian McConnell at Grace City Church in Philadelphia wrote this article that encourages us in “bringing others into what we follow.”  Ian points out that we like to do this with sports and other interests, so why not put this principle to work with the gospel?

As Ian says, we are not salespeople for God, but we are His recruiters. God does the work, we just share what He has done for us and for them!

Not only is being Gospel people important, we can do this!