“In whose hand is the life of every living thing, the breath of all mankind?.” Job 12:10
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that our life is in God’s hand. This is to ascertain that our lives hangs by a thread of sovereign grace. God owns every soul. God made us and we belong to Him by virtue of His being our Creator.
When an elect cries out to God, ‘have your way’ in my life, it is a sign of acceptance that God can give and take life as He pleases according to His infinite wisdom. God never does anyone any wrong. Job 1:20-21 ; 1 Sam 2:6 ; Deut 32:39 ; James 4:13-16 Our life is not our own. It belongs to God and He decides what life is for. In our message today, let us examine what matters most to Jesus when it pertains to a life of sacrifice.
- Value The New Creation Life
Jesus does not want the elects to waste their lives after being born again. If God wills, many of us have several decades to live on earth before we go back home. All of us have to give an account of what we did with our lives. A person’s “life does not consists in the abundance of his possessions” Lk 12:15 Accumulating things is not what life is for. This night our life will be required of us and then whose will this possession be? No sane person on his deathbed ever was comforted by his possession. Lk 12:16-21 ; Mt 16:24-26 Is it possible to waste our life? After embracing the Gospel of God’s Righteousness, few things should make us tremble more than the possibility of taking this onetime gift of life and wasting it. More and more we smell eternity. How can we use our lives well for God’s glory. Life is so short and so fragile and so final. We got one chance to live our life and then a certain judgment. Heb 9:27 We should decide resolutely that our remaining energy and freedom, we will pour out for Christ and His Church so that when we meet Him, we will smile at His Word, ‘well done good and faithful servant.’
- Essence Of The New Creation Life
What is the essence of the new creation life? It is a life that puts the infinite value of Christ on display for the world to see. The passion of the new creation life is to joyfully display the supreme excellence of Christ by the way we live. Our new life is given to us so that we can use it to make much of Christ. Possessions are given to us so that by the way we use them, we can show that they are not our treasure but Christ is our treasure. Money is given to us so that we will use it in a way that shows money is not treasure but Christ is our treasure. The great passion of the new creation life is to magnify Christ. Phil 1:20-21 Paul’s all consuming passion was that in his life and his death Jesus Christ be honored, that is, that Jesus be made to look like the infinite treasure that He is. The reason we have new life is to make Jesus look great. Phil 3:7-8 Paul displays the worth of Christ by counting everything else as loss for Christ’s sake. It is a life that uses everything to show that Christ is more valuable than it is. Money is used to show that Christ is more valuable than money. Time and talent is used to show that Christ is more valuable than time and talent. Food is used to show that Christ is more valuable than food is. Houses, land and cars are used to show that Christ is more valuable than they are. Family, friends and our life are a place to show that Christ is more valuable than any of them. We display the supreme worth of Christ in our lives by treasuring Christ above all things.
- Essential Things For Living The New Creation Life
a. Life and death are given to us as a means to display the supreme value of Christ. Phil 1:20-23
b. The supreme value of Christ is displayed when we treasure Jesus Christ above all earthly things and all other earthly persons.
c. This treasuring of Jesus Christ above all earthly things and persons is most clearly seen in what we gladly willing to risk or to sacrifice in order to enjoy more of Him. 2 Cor 12:9-10
Are we going to waste our new creation life away with the rest of the world by striving to minimize our sacrifice and maximize our comforts in this life? Are we going to work for the bread that perishes? Build bigger barns? Lay up treasures on earth? Strive for the praise of man? Or will we see in Christ baptized, crucified and risen as all satisfying treasure of our life. I believe when God raises up a generation like us at NCCkl, a completion of the Great Commission will come to pass. It will not come to pass unless a generation is joyfully willing to lay down their lives.
If our passion is to display the worth of Christ, treasure Him above all things, risk and sacrifice for the display of His supreme value, then God will use us mightily to fulfill His purposes in these last days.
“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.” Heb 11:17-19
It is important for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know what is sacrifice at its highest point. Abraham came to the place where he gave back to God what was always God’s in the first place. Abraham’s faith teaches us to hold lightly what we value greatly.
Elects ought to know that it is the kindness of God that led Abraham to Moriah to offer Isaac. Likewise, it is God’s kindness that leads us back to the place of sacrifice where we yield up to Him our dreams, our desires, our plans, our hopes, the things we own, our loved ones and finally we give to God the life He gave us in the beginning.
It is God’s kindness that is on display in this story.
No wonder in Hebrews 11:17-19, the writer focusses on three aspects of Abraham’s amazing faith where sacrifice is demonstrated at its highest point.
- Sacrifice At The Highest – Test vs 17
In reality, this story presents several problems. How could a loving God ask Abraham to sacrifice his only son? Some critics have dismissed the story on the grounds that it presents a grotesque caricature of the God of the Bible. It would have been enough if God had simply said ‘take your son’. Instead, God qualified that phrase in three ways. ‘Your Only Son’ – not forgetting Ishmael was also his son but meaning that Isaac was the promised son. Isaac – the son for whom Abraham and Sarah had waited for 25 years. ‘Whom You Love’ – which might seem as if God was mocking him but these words were to reassure Abraham that God knew what He was asking. By saying it this way, Abraham would know that God understood what it would cost him to obey. This is what God told Abraham to do, sacrifice your Isaac by killing him and burning his body as an offering to God. At that point, the man of faith only had two options. Either you obey or you don’t. If you stop to argue, that in itself is a form of disobedience. If you try to talk God out of it, that too is disobedience. If you offer an alternate plan, that is also disobedience.
- Sacrifice At The Highest – Trust vs 18
At this point, the writer wants us to think about what was at stake. We naturally focus on the unimaginable sorrow of losing a child. Nothing in all the world seem more trying than for parents to bury their children. In this case, God told Abraham to offer his own son. Abraham was fully prepared to do it, so prepared. In fact, Heb 11:17 actually says that Abraham ‘offered’ Isaac as a sacrifice, meaning that when he laid his son on the altar and raise his knife, Abraham fully intended to put him to death. Naturally our minds focus on that aspect because it is so poignant and personal. In Gen 12:1-3, God had said that He would bring forth a nation from Isaac’s descendant. Here we are faced with what seems to be enormous contradiction. God commanded Abraham to offer Isaac while having promised to bring forth offspring through Isaac. The promise and the command seem to flatly contradict each other. Abraham did not know how God would do it. He just knew God would do it somehow. Herein lies a lesson for all of us. When God makes a promise, it is folly and disbelief to wonder how He will keep His word. Faith does not reckon with ‘how’. Faith believes and leaves the ‘how’ in the hands of God. There are times in life when our only job is to take the next step. We aren’t called to figure out the big picture or to explain where it will lead. This is the true life of faith.
- Sacrifice At The Highest – Triumph vs 19
In this verse, we learn something that is only hinted at in Gen 22. Twice in that chapter Abraham intimates that he expects that somehow, some way, God was going to work things out so that Isaac would live. Gen 22:5 Abraham believed that he and his son would somehow return together. The writer of Hebrews tells us why Abraham could talk like that. Abraham believed that God could raise the dead. Gen 22:7-8 Abraham reasoned from what he knew about God to what he knew about the situation. Abraham offered his son, the Father offered His Son. Isaac carried the wood, Jesus carried the cross. Isaac was laid on the altar, Jesus was nailed to the cross. Abraham was willing to put his son to death, the Father willed that His Son should die. The ram was offered in the place of Isaac, Christ was offered in the place of sinners. Abraham received his son back ‘figuratively’, Jesus literally rose from the dead.
What are we suppose to take away from this true story? In summary, God is saying, ‘I asked for your most precious possession and you gave it to me.’
“that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead…” Phil 3:10-11
It is important for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that Jesus is the greatest gift that God willingly shared with humanity. Born as a Man on earth, the Son of God came to share His life with all men. Through His baptism, Jesus took the sins of the world upon His body, experienced death for every individual person and was raised from the dead to secure our justification of faith in the righteousness of God.
Likewise, elects born of the Spirit of Christ ought to share their life with others. God has not stopped sharing His Son through us to those who believe in the righteous act of Jesus. In our text, the Apostle Paul nicely sums up what the elects are supposed to be before sharing with others. Christianity is definitely not a religion of rules and rituals that one must work to climb the ladder of heaven. In fact, it is a personal growing relationship with the risen Christ that results in our growing conformity to Him.
Our goal is to know Him and to become like Him in order to share our lives.
- The Goal Of The Elect Is To Know Christ
Jesus said the same thing when He prayed, “and this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God and Jesus Christ Whom You have sent.” John 17:3 Christianity is primarily a growing relationship with the infinite God Who has revealed Himself through the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. As with all relationships, it begins with an initial encounter. It is the same with our relationship with Jesus Christ. Everyone has a story about their first encounter with Jesus. However, we can know a lot about someone without knowing the person Himself. As such, ‘sharing becomes you’ requires us to know who Jesus claim to be, things He did and taught, understand His baptism and death for our sins and that He was raised bodily from the dead. Like any relationship, once we have met, we must cultivate that relationship. Cultivation requires time. Closeness and intimacy are essential to foster strong relationship. We cannot know the Triune God except as He has chosen to reveal Himself to us in the Word. Heb 1:1-3
- The Goal Of The Elect Is To Be Like Christ
When we met our future mate, fall in love and got married, our life was permanently changed. We would never be the same again. It is the same, only much more so, when we meet Jesus as our Savior and Lord. Jesus marks us for life, the more we spend growing to know Him, the more we are different. Phil 3:10-11 shows the components and direction of the change that goes along with knowing Christ.
a. To be like Christ requires knowing the power of His resurrection. Eph 2:4-6; Acts 26:18; Col 1:13
Changes to one’s life is accomplished not through human persuasion or through self improvement program. They require the same mighty power of God that raised Jesus from the dead.
b. To be like Christ requires knowing the fellowship of His sufferings. 1 Pet 4:19 ; Rom 8:17-25 ; 2 Cor 1:5
Our Savior came to suffer for our sins by accepting the baptism of righteousness and to be crucified on the cross. His entire ministry was marked by misunderstanding, rejection, opposition, betrayal and death. While we can never enter into His suffering in the same way that He suffered, yet there is a sense in which we can never be like Him if we do not go through suffering and learn to entrust our souls to our faithful Father in doing what is right. Fellowship points to closeness or intimacy.
c. To be like Christ requires being conformed to His death. Gal 2:20 ; Col 1:15 ; Rom 8:13
This phrase is related to ‘fellowship of His sufferings’ and grows out of it. It also has another dimension which Paul describes in many other places, that of dying to sin and self through the baptism and death of Christ. When we trust in Christ, we are placed ‘in Christ’ which means we are united with Jesus in His baptism, death and resurrection. We have to live experientially what is true of us positionally. This is what Jesus meant when He said that whoever follows Him must deny self and take up His cross daily. Lk 9:23
d. To be like Christ will be realized in the resurrection from the dead. Phil 3:11 ; Rom 8:17-21
Paul is referring to the future resurrection of the righteous at the return of Christ, when our mortal bodies will be transformed into the likeness of Christ resurrected body, free from sin. We will then share in His glory throughout eternity.
“Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world..” 1 John 4:17
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that it is God’s plan from the beginning to make man like Jesus Christ. Emulating our Master cannot be achieved without spiritual maturity. Spiritual maturity in turn cannot be achieved without a deep understanding and persistent application of the virtues of Scripture. All we know, all we understand, all we believe about the truths of the Gospel of God’s Righteousness must come together into patterns of thinking which become habitual and then we must follow through with our words and our deeds as well.
The Gospel of God’s Righteousness not only saves us but also teaches us to emulate our Master’s faith, perseverance, generosity and His wisdom.
Let us identify some of the character traits of our Master that we the elects should emulate.
Without a doubt, Jesus was the ultimate servant. Although He was praised as a great teacher and had a great following, Jesus made sure to teach us to be servants by actually doing it Himself. Mk 10:45 Despite having the authority to get anything He wanted, have people praise and pamper Him, Jesus did the exact opposite by lowering Himself in serving others.
Jesus never looked away from people but He always looked upon them and had compassion. Mt 9:36 Whenever people were around him, Jesus understood what their real needs were and sought to address them. At times, for some, physical healing was necessary, for others the root issue was spiritual.
One of the most startling things said in Scripture is found in Luke 23:34, when Jesus was on the cross and proclaimed “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Even while bleeding and experiencing pain, Jesus had His heart set on forgiveness – even forgiving those who put Him there in the first place!
Obviously, Jesus had a love for others. If He didn’t, He wouldn’t be compassionate nor a servant. Jesus claimed that there is no greater love than to die for others. If anyone doubts His love, all they have to do is to look upon His willingness to be baptized by John so that He may carry our sins upon Himself and die on the cross for our sakes. He endured with joy the horrible death so that we can be saved and sanctified in order to be rescued from this present wicked age and world order.
No matter how busy His ministry got, He found time to be alone and pray. Whether it is the Garden of Gethsemane or on a mountain top, Jesus constantly prayed. People always try to find Him and He never turned them away but He also made sure to make it a priority to spend time with His Heavenly Father.
Jesus had no lack of commitment whatsoever. Wherever He was, whoever He was with, He was fully committed to His goal and mission. Despite praying fervently in the Garden of Gethsemane to avoid the agony of bearing the cross, He stayed completely committed to the Father’s will. There were certainly many obstacles during His ministry but Jesus stayed on track and finished strong.
Jesus had every opportunity and right to demand praise and accolades for His miracles and teachings but He never did. Even when the crowd sought to make Him King, He rushed away from their grasp. He did not want to become a sideshow performance that people could enjoy. Instead, He wanted to seek and save the lost and offer forgiveness for the sinners.
8. Self Control
Prior to His earthly ministry, Jesus spend time being tempted by the devil in the wilderness. Although He was offered food, power and privileges, Jesus controlled His desires and submitted to the will of the Father. Yes, He had desires for food and such but He had a greater desire to obey His Father and accomplish His will.
“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease.” Gen 8:22
It is important for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that the time of spiritual harvest which God has appointed is drawing near. Therefore, the elects at NCCkl have a huge responsibility to fulfill in these last days. If we look around, we will find many signs of spiritual and physical decadence occurring rapidly.
It is imperative for God’s elect to be properly informed about the Age we are in. The world will become more chaotic and the ministry that NCCkl does will shine forth even more brightly.
Spiritual harvesting must not be done out of obligation but must be done with faith which believes in the righteousness of God.
In Mt 9:35-38, Jesus gives us a picture of the world being ready for a great spiritual harvest. Jesus is seeking for laborers to gather the harvest into the barns. As elects, how should we respond? The Lord told the disciples that there are three ways that people will respond to the needs of others.
Elects ought to have an outward response, an inward response or an upward response. Today, through this passage we are going to look at each of these responses since we may react in or more of these ways when we face hard times or when we see others in need.
- Our Outward Response vs 36
Jesus was affected by what He saw and He was moved with pity and sympathy in this verse. The word ‘compassion’ means to suffer alongside. God’s eyes are eyes of compassion but what does He see? Nearly all the population of the world currently are desperately in need of salvation from eternal death. They are without a shepherd and aimless. They are constantly being harassed and severely attacked physically and spiritually. Many are under the captivity of Satan’s deception and endure immense suffering. How do we the elects see the world around us? Are people mere passing trees? We must look outwardly like Jesus with compassion, reflecting the concern God has for people. Elects must view the world outwardly by putting on the lens of God.
- Our Inward Response vs 37
If the word ‘compassion’ describes the vision we should have outwardly, the word ‘laborer’ in this verse describes the commitment we should have inwardly. The Bible describes us as workers, laborers, servants, stewards, soldiers and ambassadors. All these words convey our position. We are at the disposal of our Master. There are so many elects who will be rewarded someday not because they did something spectacular or had some great gifts but because they were faithful in what they did and how they did it. God knows there would always be a remnant that would remain faithful to Him. We must view ourselves as people at the disposal of our Master, Jesus Christ. The elects must recognize their divine call and actively participate in God’s redemptive plan for mankind. 1 Cor 4:1
- Our Upward Response vs 38
In vs 36, Jesus speaks of the need of people. In vs 37, Jesus emphasizes the need for laborers. In vs 38, Jesus wants the elects to pray. Prayer reminds us that we have a Master and the harvest belongs to Him. We are His laborers given the greatest privilege to serve His Kingdom on earth. As we remember our position as laborers, we should also remember Whom we serve, the Lord of Harvest. We are called to pray but many of us are strangely indifferent about prayer. Maybe we are afraid that if we pray for the Lord to send laborers, we will end up being called ourselves. As elects, we are an important part of what God wants us to do in this fallen world. Unfortunately, only a few elects are working for Jesus and that is why He says, “the laborers are few.” Perhaps, the lack of laborers in NCCkl going into Christian service as a career is the result of our failure to obey Jesus’ command here in vs 38 – to pray for laborers to be raised up. When we pray for the Lord to thrust forth laborers into His harvest, pray that God will give them the heart of a shepherd. Pray that the Lord will give us a heart of compassion for the lost souls. This is why we are in NCCkl – a beam of hope in the middle of a hopeless world. Let us be God’s laborers, viewing people compassionately, submitting and praying to Christ our Master and allowing Him to use us for His purpose.
“Now when Jesus ……….only speak a word, ……….I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! “ Mt 8:5-10
It is important for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to recognize that faith in the Word of God produces a wonderful and blessed life. Blessed are those who have true faith in the Word of God. Though we may have nothing to show before God, if we only have faith in His Word, then the blessings will come to us in abundance.
The passage about this centurion speaks to the elect that faith in God’s Word is the authentic faith before God. God is pleased with such a faith.
This faith comes when we believe in God, Who does everything and fulfills everything just with His Word.
At NCCkl, we encourage and facilitate Word saturated fellowship among members to exercise their faith by ‘only sharing a Word’ with one another. Let us identify several key factors found in this passage that enhances wholesome fellowship among fellow members that glorifies God.
- Why Is It Important For Elects To ‘Only Share A Word’?
- Elects ought to share God’s Word because it encourages others to follow the path of righteousness by faith. We might not know the entire Word of God but if we share the Word, it releases supernatural healing and restoration to others.
- Elects ought to share God’s Word because today’s Christianity is drifting away in a wrong current. The sad reality is that many are now following the mistaken faith based on emotions, experiences and materialism due to lack of wholesome fellowship. Such paganistic beliefs will make inroads if it is left unchecked and cause erosion of genuine faith in the Gospel Word. As a result, unbelief will slowly creep in and take center stage during our fellowship and will hinder progressive growth in the new creation life.
- Elects ought to share God’s Word because there is a huge difference between the faith of those who believe in pseudo gospel that consists visions, sign and wonders and that of those who put their absolute faith in the Word of God. Compared to the faith of the centurion, the faith of today’s misled Christians are one that seeks after miracles and signs for temporal relief. The faith of this centurion is the same as our faith which believes in the Word.
- Elects ought to share God’s Word because the remission of all our sins is fulfilled by the Word of God. There is nothing that a paralyzed person can do on his own nor can a spiritually paralyzed person make his sins disappear by his own will. Elects saved from eternal death must constantly share the Word of deliverance to others. No one can receive the remission of sins and be born again apart from faith in the Gospel Word. Heb 1:3 ; John 1:13
- Elects ought to share God’s Word because God’s Church is a gathering of those who have been born again of the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. It is the gathering of the sinless and righteous, who are called to be the saints of God. 1 Cor 1:2 A place that enables one to put down their own thoughts and understanding, believe in the Word of God and saints sharing the Gospel Truth to others.
- Why Elects Can Be Bold To ‘Only Share A Word’?
The word ‘sharing’ sometimes sends a shiver down the spine of some elects. There are many excuses elects use for not sharing the Word of God. Here are some truth from Scripture that encourages us to take a bold step outside our comfort zone and into the exciting world of sharing our faith in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness.
- It is by the power of God that people are saved, encouraged and refreshed. It is not our effort, ability and this should take the pressure off us when people are not responding when we are sharing.
- When we share our faith, we gain a deeper understanding of the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. In sharing, we ourselves are reminded of God’s awesome work in our lives. This deepens our love and understanding of Christ. Philemon 6
- When we share, be prepared for rejection. Even Jesus was rejected. Success in sharing is measured not in the outcome but in our obedience to the command of Christ. Mt 19:16-30
- The Holy Spirit will give us the words. Lk 12:11-12 If God can speak through a donkey like He did in Num 22:28, elects should be no problem for God to use! Take God at His Word.
- Our job is to plant seeds or water the soil. God takes care of the growth. God is the One Who gives life both physically and spiritually. We should take the opportunity given to plant seeds by sharing the Gospel Word and to water seeds already planted. Ultimately, it is God Who helps the person to grow.
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey..” Zech 9:9
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know who God chooses as His servants and how they are used by Him. Many are receiving the remission of sins and we need servants to lead and give them guidance in their walk with the Lord.
Who then are those used by God? Let us glean from Matthew 21 :1-11 to identify correctly the servants that God uses for His glory.
- God Uses Servants Untied From The World Mt 21:1-3
God uses those who have been loosed from their worldly ties. Those who are tied to the world cannot become servants because they still hold fast to many things of this world. Those who have been freed from the world are used by God as His precious instruments. Among the elects, some can become God’s servants while others can’t. Those who are unqualified to become servants are those still tied to carnal and material pleasures. God loosens the ties through His servants. John 11:44 Our Lord Himself does not untie them personally but loosens them through His servants. The donkey mentioned in the passage was also tied to the world. A stake was driven into the ground and the donkey was tied by a rope to this stake. The donkey work for his master. Just as the donkey is a worker to his master, we are also God’s servants once we are born again. However, if we are still tied to the world, God cannot use us. Only when we are released from the world can the Lord ride us and enter Jerusalem with us. How many ties do you have that bind you? One may be tied to his acquaintances, to his emotional attachments, to power, to basic needs or even to oneself. All these ties must be loosened by God’s servant before we can be used by God,
- God Uses Servants Redeemed From Satan Exo 13:13
When Jesus and His disciples came near Jerusalem, He said to two of His disciples, “go into the village opposite and you will see a donkey and a colt. Untie them and bring them to Me. If anyone says anything, tell them that the Lord will have need of them.“ This is something only the Lord can say. Jesus Who has redeemed us is more than able to do this because He is the Creator of the heavens and the earth, including the donkey. The Lord commanded His disciples to loosen the tied donkey and bring it to Him. The disciples obeyed and did as they were told. Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on this donkey. All of us, without exception, must be put to death because of our sins. However, by believing in the baptism and the death of the Lamb of God we have been born again and redeemed from the curse of the Law and Satan. These donkeys, having received the remission of sins are God’s servants. Even though we are Adam’s descendants and were destined to die for our sins, now having been redeemed through the Gospel of God’s Righteousness, we can be used as servants of God. It is by using servants like us that God fulfills His will and purposes on earth.
- God Uses Servants That Are Lowly Mt 21:5
The Scripture above describes how Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem. The King of kings was riding a donkey that was loosed from the bondage of the world. He rode the donkey into the city out of humility. The Lord is the King of Heaven but He entered Jerusalem riding on a lowly donkey. In the Bible, donkeys refer to the descendants of Adam who have not been born again. Adam and Eve, did not believe in the Word of God and disobeyed it out of stubbornness. God described them as donkeys. Someone who has a stiff neck and is stubborn is called a donkey. Who are made servants of God? Even though we are still as stubborn as donkeys after being born again, God continues to use us as His servants in our insufficiency. While it is a donkey that Jesus rides, it is a special donkey that has been freed from the world. It is glorious to be used in the work of the Lord. The Lord works through us, the elect, the people of God who are imperfect and haughtily stubborn.
God works in us so that we will not live for our own flesh but for the souls of others.
We are so thankful to God for using someone so lowly like us. We must desire to do the work of Jesus, that is, to serve the Lord. How glorious it must have been for the donkey to carry Jesus on His back on that triumphant day. When the donkey carried Jesus on his back, normally it was supposed to be whipped by his master. Instead, the multitudes spread their clothes before the donkey. I can say that the donkey enjoyed the greatest glory of its life time. Even though there are countless donkeys in the world, I believe that the donkey chosen and used by Jesus is the most blessed one.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Mt 6:33
It is important for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to serve the Gospel of Christ without wavering in their faith till the end. The Lord says that for the righteous believers in the Gospel Word, the wisest life is led when we set our minds on serving the Gospel.
What will then happen in contrast if the born again live according to their fleshly desires. The Lord says that He will annul such people’s salvation and cast them into separation no matter how they may have confessed with their lips that they believe in the Gospel Truth. The Lord calls such people wicked and lazy servants. The Lord says that in the end times, He will sort out the wicked from the righteous and cast them out into the darkness. Mt 13:49 ; Mt 25:26 Let us explore essential characteristics of a faithful servant who serve the Gospel.
- Serve The Gospel To Those Who Cannot Repay Us Lk 14:12-14
We can apply this passage to both the physical and spiritual aspects of our lives. While living on earth, we should refrain from inviting the rich and treating them to a meal. This is because the rich can repay us and once they repay us, our hospitality is all rendered in vain. Whenever we spend money or treat someone to a meal, we should do so for those who cannot repay us. How can we spend our money on those who cannot repay us? We can do this when we spend our money to serve the Gospel. If we were to invite the rich and just give them some material hospitality, they will feel burdened by this and think about ways to repay us somehow. However, the poor will be unable to repay us when we serve the Gospel and our reward is in Heaven.
- Serve The Gospel After Calculating First Lk 14:28-33
All the words spoken by the Lord are the truth. God’s Word continues to be something very important for those who serve the Gospel in this fallen world. Therefore, we must think about how we can continue our lives of faith incessantly and unwaveringly until the coming of the Lord. We must count and calculate it well to succeed in our endeavors. We will gain much help and strength if we were to live out our lives by thinking and calculating in advance whether we can serve the Gospel no matter what challenges we face. Furthermore, the Lord says to us that people who try to serve the Gospel after having taken care of their own difficulties first cannot serve this beautiful Gospel. What the Lord requires is a higher commitment from His faithful servants. It is neither a fleshly requirement nor a religious requirement. God requires us to follow Him unconditionally when serving the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. The Lord’s disciples are those who serve the Gospel to the end. Those who throw away worldly passions and follow the righteousness of God can follow the Lord despite their lacking or shortcoming. They can serve the Gospel with the Lord’s strength, power and blessings. Not just anyone is useful to the Gospel and not just anyone can serve the Gospel. Someone who is of great use to the Gospel is a person who leads a life of perseverance and endurance.
- Serve The Gospel After Denying Ourselves Lk 14:25-27
If we are to become the disciples of the Lord who serve the Gospel, we must first know three things according to this passage. Our Lord said “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.” To become a disciple of the Lord to serve the Gospel, we have to do likewise. It is easy to be saved from our sins by believing in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness but it is not easy to become the disciple who serve the Gospel. First, to become the Lord’s disciple we have to hate our loved ones and even our own lives. What does this Word mean? When God says that we should hate our loved ones, this does not mean we detest or disown them. This means that if our own lives or relationship with our family members hinder us from following our Lord, God tells us to hate this relationship and worldly things. Secondly, to serve the Gospel, the Lord told us, “whoever does not bear his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” Lk 14:27 We have to bear our cross and follow the Lord. We all have difficulties. Only those who can follow the Lord in difficulties can serve the Gospel effectively. Thirdly, what do we need to become in order to serve the Gospel? “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” Lk 14:33 What does God mean ‘by all that we have’? The Lord is not referring to material things when He speaks of this. Indeed the Lord provides us with materials.
The Lord is saying that to serve the Gospel we must forsake our pride and self righteousness.
To serve the Gospel after we are saved, we should not insist on our own righteousness or faithfulness. This third test is much more difficult and harder than the first and second test to serve the Gospel of Christ.
“not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” Rom 12:11
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that serving becomes us when we are united with Christ in spiritual union. This spiritual union occurs when we are baptized into Christ Jesus. The Bible explicitly declares that Jesus came to the world not to be served but to serve. As such, elects baptized in Christ are ultimately saved by grace through faith to serve the righteousness of God.
God has bestowed upon us all divine power to serve through our personal knowledge of Christ Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence. The will of the Father is not for us to go out and serve with our own human strength and grit.
Much more than that, the will of the Father is first our sanctification by the Gospel Truth so that we may receive the Holy Spirit Who will serve through us.
In this message I seek to enlarge our understanding on some key ingredients that Jesus adopted during His ministry on earth. Listed below are some indispensable approach required to serve the Gospel of God’s Righteousness.
- Jesus Served With Purpose
Serving becomes us when we do all things in Christ with purpose to glorify God. Throughout Jesus’ earthly ministry, He was purpose oriented when fulfilling the office as a Messiah. He relentlessly proclaimed the Gospel of the Kingdom, administered grace to humanity and demonstrated mighty works as the King of the universe. Elects are anointed by the Holy Spirit to do likewise. The disciples were purpose driven and never lacked in zeal. They served the Gospel with earnest endeavor to bear witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
- Jesus Served With Power
Serving becomes us when we operate through the demonstration of the Holy Spirit’s power. Jesus served with the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. Serving the Gospel is spiritual. The adversary in the spiritual realm constantly wants to undermine our services for the Lord. Human resolve and resilience is not enough to lead one to the saving knowledge of Christ. Our total reliance and guidance by the Holy Spirit is paramount. The disciples served the Gospel with supernatural power. 1 Cor 2:1-5
- Jesus Served With Urgency
Serving becomes us when we serve the Gospel with urgency. Jesus was always on time to serve the dire needs of the people. Salvation from eternal death is the most important thing in one’s life. Death comes like a thief. There is no place for procrastination when we are engaged in the service of the Lord. The disciples serve the Gospel as though there was no tomorrow. The disciples emulated Jesus and showed urgency when evangelizing the lost to fulfill the Great Commission.
- Jesus Served With Love
Serving becomes us when we serve the Gospel with love. The essence of drawing men to God is love. After all, it’s God’s unconditional love that saves us. The disciples served the Gospel with love as though they owed love to men. Elects who have experienced God’s love are duty bound, obligated and indebted to administer the love of God when serving the Gospel to the lost. However, love does not tolerate sin, compromised the purity of the Gospel or dilute the seriousness involved in repentance, faith and judgment. Jesus was unperturbed when establishing the absoluteness of the Gospel message even to those who disagree.
- Jesus Served With Joy
Serving becomes us when we serve the Gospel with joy and gladness. Paul declared that the joy of the Lord was his strength. Jesus endured His baptism and the cross with joy knowing that those who would believe in His righteous act would be saved. Jesus wants His joy and delight to be complete and overflowing in us when serving one another. Nothing can be more joyful than serving the Lord.
- Jesus Served With Compassion
Serving becomes us when we serve others with compassion. Jesus showed utmost empathy and pity towards those who were in need. We were saved by the abundant mercy of God and not because we were wonderful human beings. A heart without compassion is useless to the Master’s work. Likewise, the disciples of Jesus out of compassion laid down their lives for the lost.
- Jesus Served With Humility
Serving becomes us when we serve the Gospel with humility. Our Lord Who is God humbled Himself to be born as a man to serve the Gospel. The humble heart attracts grace. Humility is the hallmark of a true servant. The Spirit of Christ enables us to serve the Gospel in humility. With humility we should be eager and strive earnestly to serve the Gospel of God’s Righteousness in these last days.
“Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” Matt 9:35-38
It is important for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to pray and do God’s work. The age of tribulation has indeed begun in this age and time where countless sinners are lost and wandering in their sins. Elects need God’s supernatural empowerment to preach the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that can save lost souls. Though we at NCCkl are few in number, let this year be a year when we testify God’s true Gospel Word in this age of the end times.
God is working among the righteous to bear witness to the Gospel Truth. Elects at NCCkl are already anointed and inspired to serve the Lord. Let us examine who among us can become God’s worker.
- Only The Righteous Can Become God’s Worker
It is those who believe in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that comprises Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection and whose souls have been born again are able to save souls. Only they can preach the Gospel Word of righteousness. It is only when we receive the remission of sin, the Holy Spirit comes into our hearts and make us God’s worker. Acts 1:8;Acts 2:38 If one can witness that his sins has been blotted out and that he now has no sin in his heart, this is the evidence of the fact that the Holy Spirit has come into his heart. It is because the Holy Spirit guarantees our witness that we have now become sinless by believing in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. When we have an opportunity to preach the Gospel, we may feel nervous or afraid but it is ultimately the Holy Spirit Who really works in our lives. Mt 10:20 On contrary, anyone who does not believe the Gospel of God’s Righteousness is not qualified to become God’s worker. Why? It is because Christian sinners cannot bear witness to the Righteousness of God. As such, Christian sinners whose hearts have retained their sins cannot be used by the Holy Spirit as His instrument. No matter how much such Christian sinners are devoted to the work of God, sadly everything is in vain.
- Only Those Who Love Souls Can Become God’s Worker
Among the righteous, it is only those who have compassion for the souls of sinners and whose hearts desire to save them can become the workers of God’s Gospel.
They may not be particularly gifted nor articulate or have anything else that is even remotely remarkable but the righteous whose heart desire every soul to be saved are qualified as God’s workers. Among the righteous, those who love souls, even though they themselves have no power but still desire others to be saved are able to meet the challenges despite their insufficiencies. Whatever we may lack can be filled by faith and taught by God’s Church. It is not easy to save lives, whether spiritually or physically and so proper discipline of faith is really necessary. Elects must discipline themselves until they become experts at preaching the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. We must be filled with God’s Word to serve the Gospel and to lead souls. God’s workers can have spiritual fellowship with sinners only when they listen sufficiently to the Word of God. Elects themselves ought to have the spiritual knowledge of the Word and strong faith in it. However, this training cannot be attained on one’s own. We must be inside God’s Church and hear the spiritual Word that the Holy Spirit speaks to His workers through the Church. No matter how much understanding one may have on the Word on his own, this itself cannot turn into a spiritual sword. Only when we hear and learn the Word through God’s Church, can our knowledge of the Word turn into a spiritual weapon. It is only then we are barely touching others with this spiritual sword. Then they will come to be saved from their sins and be healed from the spiritual illnesses of sin.
- Only Those Who Pray Can Become God’s Worker
Even now, at this very moment, God is still looking for workers to send them into the harvest of lost souls. God is looking for workers who would be faithful to their callings, preach the Gospel of God’s Righteousness and live by faith. By saying that the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are too few, God told us to pray to Him to send us more workers to harvest. Having said so, our Lord is also telling us, ‘you who are praying shall go.’ Those who pray to God to send God’s workers are asking this precisely because their hearts yearn to do God’s work. They pray for this because they have compassion for all the lost souls. This is why our God is telling us that we who are praying for this should ourselves go out into the field as His workers. Do you believe in this? In the end times, we need workers who can lead the people of God and nourish them with the bread of life.
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord..” 1 Cor 15:58
It is pertinent for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that staying faithful in a faithless world is not a simple matter. The Christian life is a marathon, not a sprint. The important issue is not how we start but how we finish. When we believe in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness, the Lord makes His residence in our hearts. The Lord doesn’t just patch us up with a spiritual bandage and send us on our way. Scripture tells us that we become a brand new creation.
Now, even though we are saved by the water and blood of Jesus, we may find that we continue to struggle in living out a Christian life focused on bringing glory to God. When we lead people in the way of discipleship one of the issues we must deal with is the boring nature of it all. I mean, there is only so many ways we can ‘spice up’ the habits that characterize consistent growth in Christ. There will be many days even elects won’t feel like reading the Bible, pray, serve or do any other practices of spiritual development. Consequently, we might be tempted to reframe or describe spiritual growth as some grand adventure completely free of drudgery. In the end , what we will find is that consistency wins over everything else time and time again.
In today’s message, I want to explore what it truly means to renew our minds by focusing on the Lord, challenging us to examine how our actions are influenced by our consistency.
- Consistency Emphasizes Faith Over Experience
What makes an elect get up and do the same thing day after day regardless of whether we feel like it or not? We could argue that it is simply being a creature of habit but we could also say that such action is driven forward by our righteousness of faith in the Gospel Truth. Elects do the same spiritual practices because we genuinely believe that the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection is the only way to be saved and to remain saved by grace through faith. Elects read the Bible because we believe it is the Word of God and pray because God hears us. The alternative to this kind of consistency is a life driven by experience. If that is the case, our spiritual development is likened to a yo-yo moving up and down with the flippancy of emotion.
- Consistency Causes Roots To Grow Deep
When elects opt for consistency over excitement, we will develop the kind of practices that will carry us through the seasons of spiritual dryness that all of us will encounter. In other words, our roots are grown deep. When elects integrate the same, repeated practices into our lives, day after day, we will find that eventually when we don’t feel anything, when we are suffering, when we simply cannot pray anymore, we will find our roots will have extended well past the shallows to see us through.
- Consistency Works Into Other Areas Of Life
One of the side benefits of this kind of spiritual discipline is that it will work into other areas of life as well. Elects will find, I believe that not only we will be disciplined ‘spiritually’ but physically, emotionally and mentally. Then again, that is why ‘spiritually’ is in quotes because I seem to remember Jesus say that we should love God not only spiritually but with every part of ourselves.
Dear friends, time is our powerful ally. One drop of water at a time and slowly, the landscape changes.
A consistent spiritual life will lead us to attain the fullness of Christ according to the perfect will of God.
“He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification…” Rom 4:25
Blessed Resurrection Sunday!
It is important for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that with the celebration of ‘Resurrection Sunday’ comes a magnificent reality. This is the glorious power of the resurrection that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. As elects, we believe that God has spoken to us through His Word. We believe God’s Word is true. Ultimately, Christianity is far more than just a world view or a philosophy of life. In fact, Christianity is a living hope and eternal inheritance.
The resurrection provides 5 gifts that make Christianity stand out as unique, remarkable and superior to every other faith.
- The Resurrection Reverses The Garden Curse
We don’t often think of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden when we think of Resurrection Sunday. The Scripture actually tie the two together. The first pronouncement that man would die was in Gen 2:17. God warned Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. After their disobedience, in Gen 3:19 God confirmed the consequences of their sin. From that point on all men were subjected to the punishment of death for the disobedience of sin. Rom 5:12 However, Jesus as the ‘last Adam’ 1 Cor 15:45, negates the final effects of the curse. Though one day we will face physical death, the death of the elect is only a temporal condition while we wait for a resurrected spiritual body like Jesus. 1 Cor 15:49
- The Resurrection Justifies The Elect
Justification is the pronouncement from God that He has accepted Jesus’ perfect sacrifice through His baptism and death as the punishment for our sin. This acceptance by God results in the freeing of the elect from the terminal consequences of sin that leads to eternal damnation. Rom 4:25 tells us that Jesus was raised because of our justification. No elect born of the water and Spirit need ever be concerned with his/her eternal destiny. The resurrection of Jesus Christ makes our destiny a surety. We will enjoy eternal life with Christ in our own resurrected and transformed body.
- The Resurrection Transforms
We already know from 1 Cor 15 that we would receive a transformed body during the resurrection of the righteous. Sometimes we tend to forget that the resurrection provides transformation in this earthly life. We have dramatic examples in the Scripture of this very fact in the lives of those born of the water and Spirit. Following Jesus’ death, the disciples hid themselves away from the Jewish authorities. When the risen Lord showed Himself to them, they were radically changed. The result for the disciples was a transformation from fear to courage. Each of them took the message of the risen Christ with them. They had become dynamic ministers of the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection. They served for years, with each of them dying a martyr’s death proclaiming the risen Saviour.
- The Resurrection Is Revolutionary
In our English bibles we read the word ‘resurrection’ and think of nothing more than rising up from the dead. However, in Greek there is more than one word used to translate ‘resurrection’. One of those words has a root meaning to rise to revolt as in political revolution. How appropriate is such a word! The person who embraces Christ is doing nothing less than experiencing a revolution in his soul, rejecting the sinful nature for the transformation of a new nature. Rom 6:5-12. The elect is to experience nothing less than a revolution of character having rescued from the dominion of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of light. Col 1:13
- The Resurrection Provide Purpose And Meaning To Life
Without the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Christianity is meaningless. 1 Cor 15:13-17 How dreadful life would be without the sure hope of the resurrection.
Knowing our future state of a bodily resurrection that God intends, it gives us purpose and direction for life.
Nothing else in life offers the hope, purpose and meaning that the resurrection of Jesus does. Unfortunately, the unbeliever mistakenly looks to a future of uncertainty. None of the religious faith in the world could offer the hope that the resurrection of Jesus Christ brings.
“Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days..” Dan 6:10
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that consistency is an essential mark of an elect. In this message, the person of interest is Daniel, the OT prophet. When studying Daniel’s life, we can find the consistency in everything he did. Spiritual consistency is defined as holding together, firm or coherent. When I think of consistency, I think about words like practice, continuing, perseverance, determination and faithfulness.
Daniel is known in the Scripture to be one who was obedient, faithful, diligent, dependable, endowed with a good spirit, a man of prayer and a man who was a diplomat. Our text shows what Daniel did when crisis came.
Consistency is an earmark of an elect.
There are three things I want as elects in NCCkl to consider about the subject of consistency.
- Elect Need To Accept Absoluteness For Consistency
Consider the world’s insatiable appetite for consistency. How important consistency is for athletes, employers, employees, military personnel and doctors to meet their expectation. Consider the Bible’s admonition for consistency. 2 Pet 3:18; 1 Tim 4:12-16; 2 Tim 4:18; Acts 14:22 & Acts 18:11. Elects ought to see how the world demands consistency and how the Bible declares that we as elects should be consistent and continue in our divine call. The plain fact of the matter is that like Daniel, we are consistent in the things that we think is important. For example, if we think it is important to read the Word, then we will consistently read it, etc.
- Elect Need To Know The Necessity For Consistency
It is an undeniable fact that life or death can depend upon one being consistent. Consistency could be the very trait that enables us to make it through our dark valley. It certainly drove Daniel to his knees when crisis came. Daniel benefited tremendously from his previous consistent walk. Consistency itself can be a friend that encourages us to press on and stay true to our commitments.
- Elect Need To Develop An Appetite For Consistency
Looking into the life of Daniel, a sanctified, God honoring walk with our Heavenly Father does not come about by chance, luck, good intention or osmosis. In fact, it does come about by an appetite that has been cultivated over a period of time. Elects must acquire a standard, a disciplined mind set and a consecrated desire for consistency. The appetite should not be feasting on a self promoting and pharisaical motive. No, the elects at NCCkl should aspire to consistently possess right motives in all they do for God’s glory. This attitude ought to be maintained at all times to fulfill our walk and service unto God.
Dear friends, as elects, can we characterize our life as consistent? Our prayer time, bible time, giving, witnessing, godly attitude, walk etc.
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” Heb 10:23
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that spiritual consistency is a magnificent outcome of a well-developed spiritual life. Neglected spirituality naturally tends to stagnancy, then gradually falls into spiritual deterioration. Spiritual nourishment and right association are very essential to every elect.
Obedience to the Gospel Word of God’s Righteousness is a great door to spiritual consistency. Faith animates our Christian service but fear and love of God maintains our spiritual consistency.
God loves people who walk with him consistently. Spiritual derailment and seasonal spirituality are very visible these days in the lives of many professing elects. Every elect must be awakened and not be weakened.
This sermon has been weighing heavy on my heart. Before I begin, I have to make a disclaimer. I am not even close to perfect but am trying to identify places in my life where I can demonstrate consistent character and pursue a life of integrity. If we can work to eradicate inconsistency in our lives, we open up more room for God to use our lives in influential ways. Here are some practical steps that I am seeking to practice in my life to unlocking consistent character.
- Identify Aspects Of Behavior That Require Change
In Ps 139:23-24, David willingly ask God to show him areas of life that need polishing. As elects, do we do this enough? God knows us intimately, therefore we should not be afraid of being transparent with Him. God desires for us to be whole and healed. Elects at NCCkl have to decide what they ought to change in their behavior to align themselves closely to what they believe. Be brutally honest with God with yourselves. 2 Cor 7:1
- Face The Obstacles That Causes Us To Make Excuses
Elects ought to face the obstacles that causes them to make excuses or justify their lack of change. Kick this nasty habit. It has become second nature for us to lie to ourselves in order to justify actions that bring hindrances to our spiritual consistency. We were created for more than that. It may be confusing to think that consistency comes about because of change, as these concepts seem contradicting to each other but it is true. These are obstacles in our way that can be removed by faith as small as a mustard seed. Mt 17:20 Removing obstacles and justification is the way of saying, ‘God, I trust You…..I have faith that You can guide me to escape temptations that I face and help me to choose holiness this moment.’ Holiness is a by product of integrity and consistent character.
- Take Your Thoughts Captive
Elects ought to take their thoughts captive and bring it to the obedience to Christ. The keys to unlocking consistent character is found in 2 Cor 10:5. Honestly, this is one of my favorite and least favorite Scripture. It can be exhausting, initially, to practice paying attention to every single thought that comes into our minds. It is much like learning a language ….it takes a lot of time and effort at first and then it becomes internalized and habitual. We need to work to be conscious everyday of the decisions we make, however big or small and how close they bring us to being the person we really want to become. Captivating our thoughts and taking responsibility over what we do with them is the key that will get us out of any tempting situations that arises.
- To Be Persistent
Elects ought to nurture a life of spiritual persistence to attain spiritual consistency. Don’t give up trying. This circles back to my intro. It will be easy for me to stop trying to pursue righteousness, holiness, integrity and consistency because I mess up sometimes. It is possible that I might think, ‘well, I have already messed up so badly, so I might as well just keep doing it…..this is just who I am.’ Be really careful to allow your mind to believe this statement even a minute. This doesn’t just apply to ‘big sins or negative behavior, it can be laziness, worry, anger, fear or distraction…..whatever it is, it is not worth getting off the road of consistency. God wants to use our persistence to teach others!
“Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience..” Heb 4:11
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that unbelief keeps the people of God from entering into the Promised Land and the rest God had promised. Heb 3:19 Elects can draw reference from this verse that unbelief poses constant and dangerous temptation to one’s faith. As such, persevering in faith to the end becomes an indispensable act for all elects at NCCkl.
Entering the rest of God is an alternative expression for entering the Kingdom of God. Elects are to strive diligently to enter into the rest of God. God’s Word is clear that entering the rest of God is neither something guaranteed nor something that happens automatically, once and for all, when one first believes. In contrast, it is something we need to give due diligence till the end. Mt 13:1-23; 1 Cor 9:24-27
In spite of the fact that Jesus paid it all for us through His baptism, death and resurrection, some elects continue to struggle in their faith. If that is your situation today, I implore you to stop trying and start believing. How to enter God’s rest?
Heb 4:12-16 depicts that the Christian life is not one of striving to earn favor rather a life entered into God’s promise and lived out by faith in the Righteousness of God.
- Take Heed To The Word Of God vs 12-13
The Bible is the written Word of God that reveals to us the incarnate Word, Jesus Christ. Vs 12-13 is a classic passage on the power of the written Word of God. These two verses reveal several characteristics regarding the written Word of God. It is noteworthy to recognize that the Word of God is living, powerful, cutting and revealing. Elects must be founded in the Word of God to avoid unbelief seeping into their faith.
- Hold Fast To The Son OF God vs 14-15
This simply means that the elects must hold fast to the confession of faith in the person and in the works of Jesus Christ. ‘Hold fast’ means to seize, to grasp with power, hold on and don’t let go. In these verses, we discover that Jesus Christ is the unique Son of God, our Savior. He is also our High Priest. The High Priest in the Old Testament entered into the Holy of Holies once a year to make atonement for the people of God. Jesus has entered into the heavens into the very presence of the Father, as our High Priest. Note that Scripture declares Jesus Christ as a faithful High Priest, a sympathetic High Priest and a victorious High Priest. Elects must consider Jesus Christ as their Apostle and the High Priest at all times to avoid unbelief in their faith.
- Come Boldly To The Throne Of God vs 16
In the Old Testament only the High Priest could enter into the Holy of Holies once a year. After Jesus’ baptism and death, the veil of the Temple was torn from top to bottom signifying that the way to God’s Presence was open for everyone who believes in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. In Christ, elects are invited to come boldly to the Throne of grace. This verse is an open invitation to prayer. Elects have the glorious privilege of approaching the very Throne of God. Prayer is our hotline to Heaven, to God Himself. Elects are admonished to come boldly to the Throne of grace in time of need. As we approach the Throne by faith in the Righteousness of God, we will find God’s mercy, grace and promises. Mt 11:28-30 Elects must recognize the open heaven available to them by faith in order to avoid unbelief particularly in times of trouble.
“And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” Heb 6:11-12
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know why due diligence is important to God. The Bible has a lot to say about diligence. What is it? What should we be diligent about and what does God promise for those who are diligent?
In Heb 6:11-12, Paul was addressing converted elects by the Gospel of God’s Righteousness.
Christianity consists of three things – knowledge, experience and practice.
These three things the elects whom Paul was addressing evidently possessed. They were acquainted with the principles of faith in the Righteousness of God and had tasted the heavenly gift. Let us explore the diligence expected of them:
- Due Diligence Is Important For Knowledge In Realizing And Enjoying The Heavenly Blessings
Paul begins chapter 6 by admonishing the elects, “let us go on unto perfection.” In fact, such a spiritual perfection or maturity was also expected by Christ. I conceive this implies that the elects ought to comprehend all the blessings of God and to have a perfect knowledge of Christian doctrines so that we would no longer be tossed around by every form of teachings. It also implies a perfect possession of all Christian graces that would enable the elects to have full assurance of hope in Christ. More so, elects ought to advance steadily toward spiritual maturity that would lead us to perform Christian duties effectively for the glory of God. Furthermore, it implies the entire dedication of the elects to God, doing all to the glory of God and looking for the glorious appearance of Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
- Due Diligence Is Important In Order To Attain The Blessed State Of Christian Experience And Practice
Here we shall have to answer a query. If this be Christianity, how is it that we see so little of it in the world? The answer is here : “that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” These blessings of which I have been talking about are not given to idlers. Spiritual sluggishness is incompatible with Christianity. Christianity is exhibited by the elects who endure relentless spiritual warfare by exerting all their spiritual prowess. What kind of diligence then is expected of elects?
- “that you do show the same diligence” as they have shown in the commencement. Elects ought to continue using the same diligence when they were first awakened from spiritual deadness. The same amount of zeal, energy, sincerity, loveliness and the excellence of faith in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness must be displayed.
- Elects are to use the same diligence, diligence proportioned to the end of our spiritual journey. We profess to be Christians, what, then, is the object proposed to us by the profession of Christianity? Surely it is more than a name. Certainly it is eternal life – it is to save deathless, immortal souls!
- Diligence is to be proportioned, not only to the blessings to be obtained but to the evil to be avoided. The evil to be avoided here is the everlasting loss of the soul, the punishment which awaits disobedience to God throughout eternity.
- There must be diligence, again, proportioned to the time allotted to us. How long have you and I to live? How long will probation continue?
- There must be diligence, again, proportionate to that which our enemies are using in seeking our distraction. Are we ignorant of Satan’s devices? Does Satan ever slumber? Are not his temptations, as well as his emissaries, countless?
- There must be diligence, again, proportionate to the means that God gives us for this important end. God has given grace to elects and a measure of the Spirit is given to elects to profit. We have the influence of the Holy Spirit to draw near to God and to receive continual strength of grace.
- There must be diligence proportioned to our daily mercies. Our whole life is one continued mercy. Our salvation is a mercy. Then ought we not to be diligent in the services of God, seeing that the mercies of God are so inexhaustible?
- There must be diligence proportioned to the price paid for our redemption. We are not redeemed with silver and gold or corruptible things but we are bought with a price. Ought we not, considering how valuable we are in the sight of God, considering at what we have been entrusted by our Savior Who saved us – to use diligence proportionate, that we rob not God?
- There must be diligence, finally, in proportion to the relation in which we stand before God Who is our Father and our God. In proportion to the accountability which we must render up to Him in that awful and dreadful day to which we are hastening.
“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life”. Proverbs 4:23
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that we are not home yet! While elects want to be delivered from this world, they need to remember that we are living in a world that is under a curse. As a result of that curse, there is a lot of groaning and turmoil taking place. In the midst of all that, it is easy to become discouraged and laidback than to be diligent.
However in Romans 8:18-27, Paul teaches the elect that the pathway to excellence is one of diligence.
The word diligence means ‘to be characterized by steady, earnest and energetic activity.’
It is the opposite of mediocrity. Paul shares with us three arenas of life where there is diligence in the midst of a devastated world to attain pathway to excellence in Christ.
1. The Creation Groans vs 19-22
The word ‘groan’ means to sigh. It has the idea of one groaning under a burden. This is the image used to describe creation.
a. Creation’s experience vs 20 – creation came under curse not by its own doing but because of the sin of Adam. Gen 3:17-19 Adam chose to walk in rebellion to the command of God and all of creation was thrown under a curse.
b. Creation’s expression vs 22 – it depicts as sighing or writhing like a woman in the throes of childbirth. The results of that curse are plain to be seen such as earthquakes, thorns, deadly animals, poisonous snakes, death and violence.
c. Creation’s expectation vs 19-22 – it tells us that creation itself expects to be delivered from the curse that has been placed upon it. Creation yearns for that time when it will in fact be delivered from ravages of the curse of sin.
2. The Christian Groans vs 23-25
These verses describes how elects are groaning to be free from their sinful bodies. Rom 7:24 Elects long to be remade into the image of the Savior. This is the heart of every born again saints of God.
a. The Christian agony – along with creation, the elect groans to be free from this mortal and sinful body. Paul mentions the ‘first fruit of the Spirit.’ This refers to the indwelling ministry of the Spirit of God in the elect’s life. When elects got saved, the Spirit moved into our spirit. 1 Cor 12:13; Rom 8:9 The Holy Spirit produces within the elect a sense of longing. Elects want to be delivered from the sinful mortal bodies. Regardless of what anyone tells us, our flesh did not get saved! It is depraved and wicked as it had ever been. Rom 7:18-25.
b. The Christians anticipation – Paul tells us that we are saved by ‘hope.’ What does he mean? Hope in the Bible has a vastly different meaning than it does in our world today. When Bible use the word ‘hope’ it means an assurance based on a conviction. Instead of hope being a fond wish or desire, biblical hope is a deep settled knowledge grounded in the promises of God. We are saved by faith in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that comprises Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection. It is the only faith that one day our Lord will come for us and take us home. 1 Cor 15:49-55
3. The Comforter Groans vs 26-27
These verses go on to tell us that it isn’t the creation and the Christians who are groaning in this present world. Our Heavenly Comforter, the blessed Holy Spirit, also groans with us. We are glad to have One with us Who is able to experience our needs, Heb 4:15
a. The Comforter sustains vs 26a – this verse teaches us that the Holy Spirit comes alongside of us as we travel through this harsh world and ‘takes hold of our burden.’ What burden? The burden of living in the weak, sinful and morally defiled bodies! The Holy Spirit knows our tendency toward evil and He helps us. The Holy Spirit knows that we are prone to wander and He helps us. The Holy Spirit knows that we often grow weary in wellbeing and He helps us. It is only through the ministry of the Holy Spirit working in us to help us that we are even able to do anything that could be called good. We are weak in the flesh but the Holy Spirit strengthens us so that we are able by His help to carry on for the glory of God.
b. The Comforter speaks – to illustrate his point, Paul appeals to the arena of prayer. It is because of our sins and our propensity for evil, we are not able to pray in a manner that is absolutely consistent with the perfect will of God. However, the Holy Spirit, Who is God, knows the will of God and He knows what is in our redeemed spirit. He takes our prayers which are often flawed and misguided and straightens them out and tells the Father what is really in our hearts.
Whoever said the walk of faith was an easy walk lied. However, I will say that even though it isn’t always easy, it is never impossible. We have the Spirit of God within us Who leads us to the pathway of excellence if we remain diligent and committed.
“Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord”. Mat 25:23
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to maintain a diligent spirit towards God and His Kingdom in our everyday lives. Evidently, the spirit of diligence is at work in NCCkl. Even though God is a doer of these things, the spirit of diligence brings them to manifestation.
A diligent spirit is a spiritual virtue and a key ingredient required for success in our spiritual lives.
It showcases persistence, determination, consistency and earnestness to complete a task in Christ. Diligence is the platform for excellence. The reward of diligence is creativity, promotions, order and establishment. Elects must be spiritually diligent in their lives and be conscientious about growing spiritually. Listed are several aspects of diligence that elects can pursue :
- A Diligent Spirit Aspires To Glorify God
The word ‘diligent’ is a biblical word that is used to express the need for fervency to show great care and conscientiousness in one’s work or duties in spiritual matters. Let me interject at the outset that all elects at NCCkl are striving to hear the Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” In order to hear the words ‘well done’ elects have to do it with a fervent spirit. ‘Well done’ is a task or undertaking carried out successfully or satisfactorily. Josh 11:15 One of the many complaints Jesus had with the Pharisees was the fact that they were not diligent about spiritual matters. Lk 11:42 It is important to know that God does not overlook what we don’t do by what is done or accomplished in our lives. A diligent spirit will not settle for something half done! When it comes to our service to the Lord, we cannot do it half way! Hos 7:8 Half done is worthless to God. There is a danger of fulfilling spiritual services with the worldly spirit. Israel worshipped and served idols and they also worshipped and served Jehovah. Elects cannot mix worldly approach with services to the Lord. Like oil and water, they are meant to be separated.
- A Diligent Spirit Leaves No Room For Anything Less
When an elect has a diligent spirit, it completely fills his life to the place that isn’t any room for complacency, apathy, slothfulness and worldliness. Spiritual complacency depicts an attitude that accepts failure easily, self satisfied and unconcerned for betterment. Spiritual apathy displays an absence of emotion or enthusiasm and lack of interest or drive for spiritual matters. Spiritual slothfulness shows laziness and lack of desire for spiritual endeavors. Spiritual worldliness expresses concern with worldly affairs to the neglect of spiritual needs.
- A Diligent Spirit Produces Godly Qualities
Elects who are diligent are constant in their efforts to accomplish something for the Lord. They are attentive and persistent in whatever they do. Exo 15:26 Elects with fervent spirit are diligent in hearing the voice of God and always do what is right in God’s sight. A lack of diligence will cause the elects to lose that which we have received through the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. However, a spirit of diligence can cause the elects to find what they have lost in the past. Lk 15:8 God rewards our diligence in seeking the Kingdom of God. Heb 11:6 Elects possessing a diligent spirit would constantly watch one another to ensure none falls back from and fails to secure God’s Righteousness and grace. Elects practicing diligence would not allow root of bitterness in their hearts. Heb 12:15 A diligent spirit cause the elects to make necessary preparations by the guidance of the Holy Spirit to usher the soon coming Lord of Glory. 2 Pet 3:14
“God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” 1 Cor 1:9
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that God is the model for faithfulness. The faithfulness of God is deeply rooted and is an integral part of Who He is. When elects know God’s track record of faithfulness, they would want to respond with trust and obedience.
The OT word for faithfulness is related to the word for truth. They both come from the same root which means ‘firmness’ or ‘stability.’
Faithfulness actually grows out of truth.
It is an interesting note to know how often faithfulness and truth are used together in Scriptures. Isa 25:1; Rev 19:11 Scripture extols God’s faithfulness. God has spoken in truth and His Word is sure, every generation can count on what God has said. No wonder Jeremiah exclaimed with joy “Great is thy faithfulness” Lam 3:23 Several specific applications of God’s faithfulness are made in the NT.
- God Is Faithful In Assuring Our Salvation
The spiritual lives of the Corinthian Christians in this text are left much to be desired but Paul commends them for “awaiting eagerly for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who shall also confirm to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Cor 1:7-9 Paul is confident that the Lord Himself will make them steadfast and preserve them from falling away. That confidence does not rest in the strength or ability of the Corinthians but in the faithfulness of God. If God promised eternal life to those who place their faith in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness, then God will deliver what He promised. God will never allow them to perish. What a satisfying assurance for those who are sealed with the Holy Spirit.
2. God Is Faithful In Providing For Our Victory
God wants us to enjoy victory over sin, death, Satan, flesh, world and triumph through trials but He has not left us on our own to achieve it. He offers us help. 1 Cor 10:13 God promises to protect us from more than we can bear and to provide with every temptation or testing a way of escape. God’s faithfulness guarantees it! God has given us His Spirit to live in us and help us. God has equipped us with His Word which sets Satan on his heels. God is continually available for communication through prayer. When we step out by faith to obey Him, God meets us there with His strength. These are resources which He has faithfully provided and when we use them we enjoy His victory.
- God Is Faithful In Forgiving Our Sins
Unfortunately, most of us only use God’s resources for victory intermittently and as a result we sin. However, God’s faithfulness reaches us even then, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 We can enjoy blessing when we acknowledge our sins to God as a righteous child who have been completely cleansed from all our sins through the baptism, death and resurrection of Christ. God forgives us on the basis of two aspects of His character. One of it is His righteous or just character. He has already punished His Son on our behalf through His baptism and death, so justice has been served and God now has no reason to withhold forgiveness to those who believe in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. The second is His faithfulness. Jer 31:34 Though our sins seem so horrible that God could never be expected to forgive them, God says He will and is always faithful to His Word. Confess your sins to God as a righteous and sinless child, then take God at His Word. Believe that God has forgiven us and cleansed us from all unrighteousness through Christ Who is our perfect sacrifice.
- God Is Faithful In Sustaining Us Through Suffering
One of the times, we are most tempted to doubt God’s faithfulness is when suffering strikes our lives. It often makes no sense to us and we see no reason for it. We may search our lives and although we find some sins which we have previously overlooked, we still cannot believe we deserve what God has allowed to happen to us. We begin to think that God has forgotten us or really does not care about us. Isa 49:14-16 God allows us to suffer at times but He could never forget us in our suffering because He is faithful. He does not forget us. He really does care. How can we appropriate this great doctrine of God’s faithfulness and enjoy calmness and contentment when hard times come? The only way is to do what Peter suggested, “therefore, let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.” 1 Pet 4:19 As the Creator, God has the power to carry out His perfect plan for our lives and to accomplish His perfect purposes through our suffering. As the faithful Creator, God can be counted on to do it. Therefore, we can consciously entrust ourselves to His care with complete confidence and hand the safekeeping of our lives over to Him, believing that He will do what is best. When we do that, we will have peace in the midst of adversity.
“Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me..” Luke 9:23
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that we stand today one generation from extinction. It is vitally important to pass along our faith in the Righteousness of God to the next generation at NCCkl. Of course, I am not talking about nuclear annihilation or natural calamities but rather about the preservation of the purity of the Gospel Word. Mt 10:28
We are one generation from becoming religious in form without faith in the righteousness of God. We are one generation from piousness without true faith. We are one generation from being a congregation without Christ. Unless the next generation picks up the challenge to be the body of Jesus Christ, proclaiming this powerful Gospel that comprises Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection, NCCkl will be irrelevant, impotent and a Sunday morning spiritual scrap heap! There is urgency today for faithfulness to the faith. Let us examine Neh 13:23-31 to identify some of the shortfall of faithfulness to the faith in the Gospel Truth.
- Worldly Culture
In too many so called ‘churches’, worldly culture has replaced true Christianity. Worldly culture that take the edge off our loyalty to the King of kings. When worldly culture replaces Christianity, we lift high the banner of political correctness, moral relativism and multi culturalism. In the name of that current most sacred cow called ‘tolerance’ we may allow the fact that ‘anything goes.’ Sadly, when ‘anything goes’ infects the church, what is ‘going’ is the church – straight into oblivion, irrelevance and total uselessness in the Kingdom of God. Saddest of all is that many in the church may not recognize the signs and even some who do see may not really care. That lack of vision or care can be seen in today’s Christianity. It is a shortfall of faithfulness to the faith in the Gospel Truth of God’s Righteousness. What I have just stated is an updated view of God’s people we read about in Nehemiah’s world. Despite revival and renewal the elects then constantly refused to abandon their sinful ways. It is called spiritual adultery and it is nothing new. We make a vow to God to love Him, serve Him and to be faithful to the faith in the Righteousness of God and then we slip right back into the same old mold. 2 Pet 2:20-22 Strong words from Apostle Peter indeed but a warning we must not ignore! Nehemiah dealt with spiritual adultery from the opening to closing days of his ministry. Anytime an elect violates his faithfulness to God and God’s call on his life by making a choice against God’s will, he is in a state of spiritual adultery, he is following Satan and not the Lord Jesus Christ. In other days we called it ‘backsliding.’
- Worldly Influence
Specifically, we have seen in our study of Nehemiah the partnership of God’s people with heathens. The influence of pagan culture on what should have been godly homes was devastating. It crippled the concept of worship in homes throughout the land. Nehemiah knew it and we should as well, that you cannot mix faith with unbelief and think you will come away with anything pleasing to God. Never for any reason partner with an unbeliever or fruitless deeds of darkness, that is if you intend to have any seriousness about your walk with God. Emotions will begin to cloud your judgment, overriding your common sense and in some ways your life will suffer ruin. Wise Solomon couldn’t get away with it and neither are you likely to. When Nehemiah found out about the spiritual adultery through mixing faith and unbelief, he sent a startling wake up call. We at NCCkl cannot look the other way on these issues. None of us are perfect but there are some things we can control. If not, we pay the consequences spiritually and sometimes physically without fail.
- Worldly values
Loss of spiritual vitality doesn’t happen suddenly. It is more like a slow leak in your tire that lets the air out gradually. A loss of faithfulness to the faith can happen when we compromise our Christian values. Faithfulness to the faith in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness is our calling – everyone of us at NCCkl. Nehemiah is most remembered for building the walls of Jerusalem and restoring the city. However, if we look carefully, his whole aim wasn’t a monument of walls or building but an uncompromising worship of Almighty God of Israel.
Nehemiah wanted to be known for his faithfulness to the faith. Nehemiah measured everything on how God and His Word were being honored.
a. Purify Neh 13:30
To purify means that elects are going to examine your life and pull out the things that don’t belong to God. Look for those things that tend to pull you away from God in your worship and service. Look for the things that interfere with your quiet time or personal devotion. Look for the things that have crept in to rob you of your joy and those things that weaken your witness for God.
b. Provide Neh 13:31
Nehemiah made sure to provide for the continuing of worship. It is one thing to purify – get rid of those things that pollute your relationship with the Lord, it is just as important to take positive steps to keep your worship of God vital. That means being ready to daily give God control of your life. Do you pray? Do you read your bible? Do you tithe? Do you share your faith? Can God have whatever you have?
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Tim 1:7
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to recognize that fear is the chief enemy of steadfast faithfulness. It is the great immobilizer. It has frozen many elects at NCCkl in their tracks and kept them from accomplishing all they were created to do in God’s Kingdom. Fear has long been the enemy of faith in the Righteousness of God and derails those who desire to be steadfast and faithful.
In 2 Tim 1:1-7, Paul reveals to us through the life of Timothy on how he had worked hard at developing Timothy to assume the responsibilities of advancing the Gospel Truth. Timothy, however, by personality is not one we would normally deem fit for the task. Shy and retiring, timid and fearful, Timothy seem from human perspective to be an unlikely candidate. However, God does not see things as man sees them. Man look at the external appearance, God looks at the heart. God sees us not based upon what we can do but based upon what He can do through us. Notice 4 things in our text that would enable us to fulfill the mandate God has given for 2019 ‘Send Me.’
- Elects Overcome Fear And Remain Faithful By Reassuring One Another vs 3-4
The nature of this passage is intensely personal. Paul loved Timothy as a son and writes to him as a father will write to a son. While he is painfully honest, notice that before he calls upon Timothy to rekindle the flame within him and abandon his fear, he begins with words of reassurance, words that encourage and strengthen. Elects need word of reassurance. Elects need someone who will love them enough to encourage them. In vs 3-4, Paul says five things that speak on reassurance.
a. Gratitude – I am thankful for you v3
It is always encouraging to know that someone can appreciate what God has done through you and is thankful to God for you.
b. Faithfulness – I am praying for you v3
Paul was quick to let Timothy know that he was making intercession on his behalf. One of the most encouraging thing elects can ever experience is to know someone loves them enough to remember them in prayer.
c. Fellowship – I want to spend time with you v4
Time and distance had in no way diminished the strength of their fellowship. Even as Paul wanted to strengthen Timothy, he too needed to be reassured and strengthened through fellowship.
d. Empathy – I know what you are going through v4
The difficulties Timothy had experienced in ministry has led to tears. Anyonewho has spent time in ministry understands that sometimes the going gets tough. Sometimes the stress and strain, the disappointment and difficulties lead us to tears. It is encouraging to realize that others understand what we are going through and can empathize with us.
e. Blessing – You are a blessing to me v4
Paul saw Timothy as one of the blessings God has given him. It is always encouraging to know that we have been a blessing to others. Paul wanted Timothy to know that as he counted his blessings, Timothy was among them.
- Elects Overcome Fear And Remain Faithful By Remembering What Jesus Has Done In Our Lives v5
It is easier to be faithful to God when we remember His faithfulness to us. As people, we have a tremendous capacity to forget. We forget what others have done for us. We forget what God has done for us. Paul points Timothy back to the things he had done in his life that demonstrates God’s hand on him and His ministry. Notice two things namely, Paul emphasizes on Timothy’s genuine faith in the Gospel Word and the godly family Timothy came from. We overcome fear by remembering what Jesus has done in our lives.
- Elects Overcome Fear And Remain Faithful By Rekindling The Gifts God Has Given Us v6
Doubts and fears have a tendency to cause elects to let the flame of passion, the fire for action to burn low in their lives. Paul tells Timothy that if he is going to assume the responsibility for which God has ordained him, he must keep the fire of passion alive in his heart. Allow me to suggest four things that I believe will continuously add fuel to your fire and keep it burning within you. Be strong in your walk, be spiritual in your worship, study the Word and be focused in your kingdom work.
- Elects Overcome Fear And Remain Faithful By Relying On God’s Strength v7
Of all the things of which we need reminding, perhaps the most important is to know that we are not alone. We had been given the Spirit of God and His Spirit is not one of fear but of power, of love and of sound judgment. The strength of man will always leave us fearful. If we can do something without supernatural strength, it is probably not of God. What is not of faith is not of God. God does not call us to do things that we can accomplish without Him. In fact, Jesus tells us that without Him we can do nothing. Timothy was fearful because the flames within him had burned low. The faith within him was weak.
Instead of giving in to fear, which is inconsistent with the very nature of the Spirit of God, we are told that we have been possessed by His Spirit, one of power, of love and of sound judgment.
“But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that faithfulness is better than life.
Elects should count faithfulness to the calling of Christ as better than the comforts of life and as better than staying alive.
In Acts 20:22-25, Paul talks about his future. What Paul chooses to say is a powerful inspiration for the elects at NCCkl. I would like to answer two questions using these verses as the basis for the answers. What does it mean that faithfulness is better than life? Why is faithfulness better than life?
1. What Does It Mean That Faithfulness Is Better Than Life?
a. Elects are bound by the Spirit to the will of God. vs 22a
Faithfulness is better than life means being bound by the Holy Spirit to the will of God. Paul is a man under strong conviction and constraint, his spirit is held captive by the Spirit of God to do the will of God. Our spirit is gripped and driven by the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit has a hold of us. The will of God is our passion.
b. Elects are content not to know tomorrow in detail. vs 22b
Faithfulness is better than life means that elect are content not to know in detail what tomorrow will bring. This is tremendously freeing. If one is a pessimist, one probably dream of a dozen things a day that may go wrong tomorrow that will make one miserable. This text means that what God requires of us tomorrow is not that we have to make things work. Success in human ventures is not the measure of God on our lives. What God requires of us tomorrow is that we are to be faithful to Him and let the chips fall where He wills. That is very freeing.
c. Elects are not to forsake Christ in affliction. vs 23
Faithfulness is better than life means elects are not to forsake Christ when faithfulness means affliction. If we can honestly say with Paul that ‘faithfulness is better than life’ it will mean not only that we can be content with ignorance about tomorrow but we can also be content with the assurance that tomorrow is going to hurt. This is remarkable. The Holy Spirit tells Paul that in every city trials and afflictions awaits him. Why Paul says this? It is to teach the elects that it doesn’t matter to him, he is going forward anyway. Elects at NCCkl should do too. The question is not whether there will be hardship, pain, trouble or affliction, there will be! Paul said to all the churches in Acts 14:22, “through many tribulations we must enter the Kingdom.” The question is whether we believe that faithfulness is better than life. 2 Tim 3:12
2.. Why Is Faithfulness Better Than Life?
a. Elects finishing the race vs 24
Faithfulness is better than life because faithfulness means finishing the race and the one who finishes will get the crown. In other words, faithfulness is better than life because beyond this short life there is a great life of joy that stretches out forever out into eternity. Those who are faithful here will enter that life and get a crown of righteousness. Mat 24:13; 2 Cor 4:17; Mt 19:29; John 12:25; Mt 7:13-14 Why is faithfulness better than life? It is because faithfulness means finishing the race and finishing the race means without dropping out from weariness or frustration or pleasant detours.
b. God is gracious and God is King vs 24-25
The answer is found in 2 phrases, one at the end of vs 24 and one near the end of vs 25. The first phrase is ‘the gospel of the grace of God.’ The ministry Paul wants to be faithful to is the one he received from the Lord Jesus. This is to testify to the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection, which demonstrates the pure grace of God towards man’s salvation. The second phrase is ‘preaching the Kingdom’ in vs 25. Paul sums up the contents of his life work with these two phrases. First testifying to the Gospel of God’s Righteousness and second preaching the Kingdom of God. Paul lived to make known God’s grace and God’s Kingdom. Here is the answer to our question, the foundation of Paul’s life and his hope was that God is gracious and that God is King. That is the basis of our confidence that faithfulness is better than life. If God is King, then God can reward the faithful and nothing can stop Him in His kingly power.
In conclusion, the message that faithfulness is better than life stands firm today – as firm and sure of the sovereignty and grace of God in Jesus Christ. I urge the elects at NCCkl to let God’s Word and not the words of the world determine what they feel is better in their lives.
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” James 1:22
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that God is shaking everything that can be shaken. Heb 12:26-29 That which is true and righteous will remain. God is awakening the elects out of complacency and challenging them to a lifestyle of radical obedience.
What do I mean by lifestyle of radical obedience? Lifestyle of radical obedience involves listening attentively with a heart of compliant submission and then obeying God’s Word.
Lifestyle of radical obedience means maintaining an intimate connection with God so much so that it prompts us to respond to His beckoning voice.
My intention today is to lay out why the elects at NCCkl should live a life that is characterized by radical obedience. Listed below are some benefits :
- Strong Relationship With God
Lifestyle of radical obedience creates a deeper relationship with God by having faith in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. Our prompt obedience to God’s Word releases revelation knowledge that causes us to experience God on a higher level.
- Success In Our Endeavors
Lifestyle of radical obedience promotes perpetual success. In Joshua 1:8, God promised success and prosperity for those who obey His words. God told Joshua that his success was dependent on his obedience to God. It is no different for us elects. We can expect God to bless our endeavors when we are willing to be obedient to Him.
- Rest For Our Soul
Lifestyle of radical obedience provides rest. In Mt 11:28, Jesus promised rest for those who are weary and burdened if they obey His word and learn from Him. We are made to rest and we can only find rest when we are rested in Jesus, Who is the Lord of Sabbath.
- Heaven Is Priceless
Lifestyle of radical obedience promises everlasting life in Heaven. Heaven is literally priceless and because of that, it is our motivation for radical obedience. Since we are going to Heaven, the elects ought to act like it. Elects are God’s people right now, not just in the by-and by-. When Jesus contrasted His work with the devil in John 10:10, He said, “the thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy but I have come that you may have life and have it to the full.” Heaven is life and life to the full. If you are an elect, you will never be as fully alive as the moment you die. In that moment, you will awaken to the very fullness of life in a place called Heaven.
- Conduit For Miracles
Lifestyle of radical obedience position the elects to experience supernatural moves of God. This can vary from giving someone a vital word of knowledge or even to pray and expect a miracle to occur.
- Develops The ‘Yes’ Habit
Lifestyle of radical obedience allows the elect to be on the look out for what God is trying to do in the moment and get in alignment with that. The ‘yes’ habit crushes the voice of doubt and creates a greater sensitivity to discerning the voice of God.
- Courageous Boldness
Lifestyle of radical obedience enables the elect to step out by faith on something God ask us to do even though we were afraid at first. Over time the spirit becomes stronger and confident in God and less intimidated by the fear of man. The Holy Spirit will endow elects with power and a fierce boldness that will leave others astonished.
- Adventurous Faith
Lifestyle of radical obedience will cause the elect’s faith not to stay at the same level. It will have no other choice other than to stretch in order to fit the task that God is asking of us. It allows God to grow our faith and teach us to trust His promptings.
- Joyful Obedience
Lifestyle of radical obedience produces joy in knowing that we are in communication with the Father. Joy and gladness come to us when we continually acknowledge His Presence. Faithfulness in this way brings perpetual blessings to the elects who will in turn bless others.
In conclusion, everyone benefits from lifestyle of radical obedience to God whether it be directly or indirectly.
……..“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice…….” 1 Sam 15:22
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that obedience leads to righteousness. Obedience is the chief end of all true believers. Sacrifice without obedience is futile and useless. Obedience to the Lord is a big deal in the elect’s life. In fact, obedience gives evidence of being an elect. A profession of faith in Christ without a life of progressive obedience is simply a false profession.
However, don’t be discouraged in your struggles with obedience. Nor lament over your many failings in your obedience. If you have a desire to obey and are purposefully seeking to obey the Lord, that is really a good sign of a new life in Christ. Perfect obedience is for another world. Sincere and growing obedience is for this world. Let us explore 3 things about true obedience that delights God’s heart.
- True Obedience Is Salvation
Faith in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness and true obedience simply always go together. We cannot have one without the other because obedience is the final analysis of what salvation is all about. A person who is not converted truly by the baptism, death and resurrection of Christ cannot obey God. A carnal heart cannot obey God because it cannot subject to the law of God. This is the reason a person who has not believed by faith in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness cannot be obedient in the true sense of the word. Obey is what people who have attained salvation by faith in Jesus’ baptism and death that desire to do. Obedience is the objective test as to whether a person has truly received salvation and have been sealed with the indwelling Holy Spirit. Jesus said, putting it in plain English, “if you love Me, you will keep My words.” In other place He says that “a tree is known by its fruits”
- True Obedience Is Not An Act but An Attitude
God does not measure obedience like we do. We look at the outward appearance, God looks at the heart. For this reason, we need to understand that obedience is first and foremost something that comes from the heart. Obedience is an attitude. I say that because a person can appear to be obedient on the outside and actually be hating every minute of it. God has not only forgiven our sins but in a miraculous way have given us an attitude that actually wants to obey. The whole plan of salvation has as its primary purpose to create in us a new heart that is, a new attitude which says, “I delight to do Your will, O my God, You have written Your will in my heart.” A person who does not have an attitude of obedience will tend to play what we might call ‘obedient games.’ That is, he will be obedient in some things and disobedient in others. True obedience is non-discriminatory. It is an ongoing attitude that operates all the time. When we talk about what it means to be ‘true to God’ or ‘faithful to God’ what are we talking about anyway? Think about it. How can a person ever be true to God or faithful to God unless he is obedient to what God requires. The first characteristics of true obedience is that it is an attitude that God puts in our hearts when we believe in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness.
- True Obedience Can Never Come From Fear, Guilt Or Duty
True obedience is an attitude that a person has who is truly born again of the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. A person who truly loves God would never obey Him for fear of the consequences. The Scripture says, “Perfect love casts out fear” 1 John 4:18 A person who tries to obey God because they are afraid has not learned nor are they enjoying the blessing of obedience. A person who is seeking to obey God because they would feel guilty if they didn’t, does not enjoy the blessing of obedience either. A person who is trying to obey God in every area because they feel it is their duty to do so is not enjoying the blessing of obedience as well. A person who lives under grace obeys for that very reason. True obedience is heart deep. However, the obedience that comes from fear, guilt or duty is false obedience and is only skin deep.
In conclusion, let me interject at this point a comforting thought and that is, temptation is not disobedience. Our flesh and the devil will continually to call us to pride, impurity and unloveliness. We will come to realize that there is in all of us a carnal nature which delights in disobedience. We need to continually confess our faith in the Righteousness of God and know that we have died to this part of us. Those whose hearts are obedient will still be tempted to disobey.
Obedience is just as much a gift of God as is forgiveness in salvation.
“Jesus answered and said to him, If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words …………” John 14:23-24
What a joy! It is truly my pleasure once again interact with you through “Insight.” May the Lord bring into fruition the theme “Send Me” in all our lives.
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know the key to God’s heart. What do you think is the key to God’s heart? Is it humility, perseverance or faith? Although these attributes play a vital role in the elect’s life, today’s passage reveals to us the key to God’s heart. John 14:23-24 tells us the best way to express our love, honor and reverence for God is through obedience. Let me share with you 3 points.
- Obedience Is Not Optional For Elects
Jesus Christ simply states the fact : “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Jesus is not giving here an optional obedience. Take note, “if you love me, then obey what I command you.” He is saying that the man who truly loves him will obey His commandments. To the elect there is no option. He loves Jesus, therefore, he obeys Jesus’ commands. It means we follow them and treasure them. In 1 John 2:3-4 we read, “we know that we have come to know Him if we obey His commands.” The man who says, “I know Him but does not do what He commands is a liar and the truth is not in him.” God’s elect have a specific responsibility. Jesus is asking elects, just as He asked the apostles, to keep His words. Ps 119:111
- Obedience Brings Blessing
Note the words, “my Father will love him and we will come and make our home with him.” What a blessing to be loved by God the Father. What a blessing for both the Father and Jesus to come and abide in the elect in the person of the Holy Spirit. All three live and dwell within the elect. When we obey God, the love of God will enrich us greatly, as there is no such thing as obeying Him and not being blessed. Blessing follows obedience. Our obedience to God allows Him to demonstrate His awesome power in our lives. Our obedience also allows God to bless others through us. Does this mean that we should obey God for the sake of blessings? No it does not. Instead, we should please God and obey Him because of Who He is. We should honor Him and reverence Him as God the Father, the creator of all things. Therefore, the greatest reward we can attain is His love and favor. This is a blessing to those who obey the Word of God.
- Obedience Is Tied In Knowing God And Loving Him
In 1 John 2:5 we read, “but if anyone obeys His word, God’s love is truly made complete in Him. This is how we know we are in Him.” The obedient man obeys God’s word, knows God and loves God. Jesus Christ came to earth to reveal God and to show us how to enter into God through the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that comprises Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection.
Therefore, to know God, we must obey the mother of all obedience and that is to believe the Gospel of God’s Righteousness.
We must obey the Gospel Word to attain salvation for our souls. To those who disobey this Gospel Word will be destroyed. No amount of so called ‘obedience’ besides this can save one’s soul. God’s elect must abide in Christ by faith in the Gospel truth. The more we obey Him, the more we learn about Him and love Him. Take note the word ‘obeys’ is a continuous action. It means to continue believing and not to stop. It is a day to day obedience. The obedient person is the one who knows and loves God.
To conclude this message, let me share with you on what we must do to learn obedience.
1. Learn to wait upon the Lord in prayer. Isa 40:31
2. Develop a habit of reading God’s Word. Ps 119:47
3. Realize that to obey God often means head on collision with human reasoning and world system. Prov 1:7
4. Realize that sometimes God will allow us to walk in the dark so that we will learn to trust Him. James 1:2-3
5. Expect some inner struggles. Rom 7:15
6. Learn that there is no substitute for obedience. Deut 11:26-28
7. Be teachable. James 4:6