August 13, 2023
“This Changes Everything”
Here’s a recap from last week:
GOD IS MOST GLORIFIED IN US WHEN WE ARE MOST SATISFIED IN HIM.
To put it another way:
CHRIST IS GLORIFIED IN YOU WHEN HE IS MORE PRECIOUS TO YOU THAN ALL THAT LIFE CAN GIVE OR DEATH CAN TAKE.
If this truth takes root in your life, it changes everything. For the rest of our time together, we’re going to look at eight dramatic shifts that will happen in your life.
First, Christ is most glorified in how we face our own death. As we saw last
week in Philippians 1:18-23:
What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.
Dying well gives all the glory and honor and praise to Christ. It has nothing to do with heroics or great achievement. Dying well simply means laying yourself into the arms of the One who makes the loss of everything gain. You might recall where Jesus said, “Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” There’s that sense of a child-like trusting of Jesus in life and death.
Elisabeth Elliot was a Christian author and speaker. Her first husband was killed in 1956 while attempting to make missionary contact with a primitive people in eastern Ecuador. She later spent two years as a missionary to the tribe members who killed her husband. That’s the context for these inspiring words:
“You only know what you have to do today. None of us knows the future. Be faithful today…do your work faithfully, thoroughly, honestly, and gratefully.”
As Paul said, for me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. You cannot truly begin to live until you’re reconciled with your death. Christ is most glorified as you live out of that truth.
Second, living for Christ changes how we think about conversion. Think about what happened in your life when you were gripped by the truth that Jesus Christ received the punishment for your sin as he died on the cross, and rose again to show you God’s plan for your salvation. Think about that truth. God gave you the faith to believe it. Think about how it changed your life. Think about how it changed your worldview. Think about how it changed your everyday interactions with people.
In Matthew 13:44-45, Jesus said:
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
In these two short and concise parables, what is Jesus’ point? Becoming a devoted follower of Jesus Christ means not only believing the truth. It also means finding treasure. So when we tell lost people about Jesus, we’re not only inviting them into the truth of our Biblical worldview. We’re also pointing them to a treasure that is more valuable than anything they have.
Third, living for Christ means finishing the race. As we read in two key passages:
1 Timothy 6:11-12, “But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”
John 1:12-13, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
When we say we treasure Jesus above all others, we are fighting for our joy in Christ. No matter what the world throws at us, we live out of the truth that Jesus is supremely valuable. Nothing can get us down, take us down, or knock us down. It’s all about perseverance…grit.
Fourth, living for Christ gives direction to how we fight evil in our lives. As Jeremiah 2:13 says:
“For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”
To summarize a Martyn Lloyd-Jones sermon on this passage:
Everyone must consider what they are chasing in life and if it will last. We all seek satisfaction from a worldview that is either like a cistern of stagnant water or a fountain of flowing, living water. What characterizes the cistern “way of living”? First, it is entirely human-made…all authority is subject to change depending on the shifting opinions of humanity. Second, all the effort for happiness is dependent upon oneself. They are expected to find what makes one happy and chase it with all they have…This way of approaching life cannot satisfy - there is no hope. Jesus offers a fountain of flowing, living water designed to satisfy the deepest longings of the soul in Himself. In contrast to the cistern, this living water is rooted in God’s unchanging authority, providing a bedrock upon that which one can establish their life. Crucially, this living water has accomplished all the work because one could not earn it on their own…Jesus’s offer of salvation accomplished through His death and resurrection to atone for the sins of all humanity is offered to the Christian. Take a deep drink from this living water and find eternal life.
Evil is personified by preference for the empty wells of the world over the living waters of enjoying fellowship with God. We fight evil by the daily pursuit of the fullest satisfaction in the worldview God has revealed to us. As Palm 36:7-9 says, “How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.”
Fifth, living for Christ changes the way we think about self-denial. Remember what Jesus said in Mark 8:34-38:
And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
Oh, how this plays out in our ever-increasing narcissistic culture. Compare and contrast this teaching from our Savior with the prosperity gospel. The prosperity gospel and the prosperity gospel-lite version that has captured too many evangelical churches turn Mark 8 upside down. You can gain the world by following Jesus.
Instead, true self-denial means:
Move away from having the wealth of the world as your goal so you can have the wealth of being with Christ.
Leave behind needing the approval of others and to be liked by others to having the joy of God’s approval. In other words, don’t be a people pleaser.
Let go of the need for the safety and security of the world in
order to embrace the solid, secure fellowship of Jesus. Never forget, fear is a motivator used by the rulers of this world.
Resist the short-term pleasures of the world’s temptations
so you can have fullness and joy forever in the throne room of God.
For us, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Sixth, corporate worship is essential to living for Christ. We’ll be exploring this more deeply beginning next week. For now, simply put, worship is when followers of Jesus gather to give God all glory and honor and praise. What our worship leaders do is lead us to the spring of living water and spread before us the rich manna. Our collective task is to drink and eat as we exclaim our satisfaction in what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. God is most glorified when worshipers are most satisfied in Him.
Seventh, living for Christ changes how we see disability and weakness. Here’s what the Apostle Paul, in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, said he learned from Jesus:
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the
surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in
the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from
becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
I love this passage. It drives our thoughts away from thinking about disability and weakness in the context of punishment from God or abandonment by God to seeing it as an opportunity for God to be glorified in our lives. In other words, true contentment comes from recognizing that we can do whatever God intends for us to do through Christ who strengthens us. God graciously provides strength when it is needed. That’s when we find our identity, our confidence, and our contentment in Him. This is what God meant when He said that His grace is sufficient - it is all
Think of how that changes how we look at our hurts or challenges or set-
backs or disabilities. With that mindset, there’s no room for whining or complaining or feeling like a victim. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
Before we move on to #8, here’s a review of the first seven dramatic shifts in your life that happens when you understand the Biblical truth that Jesus died on the cross and rose again for you:
First, Christ is most glorified in how we face our own death.
Second, living for Christ changes how we think about conversion.
Third, living for Christ means finishing the race.
Fourth, living for Christ gives direction to how we fight evil in our lives.
Fifth, living for Christ changes the way we think about self-denial.
Sixth, corporate worship is essential to living for Christ.
Seventh, living for Christ changes how we see disability and weakness.
Finally, eighth, living for Christ changes the meaning of love. Our culture has such a weak understanding of love. You fall in love. You fall out of love. Puppy love. Weak…weak…weak. Love is not a noun. Love is a verb. Love actively seeks the benefit of another. Love is work. Here’s what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 8:1-2:
“We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.”
As we read further, in verse eight, Paul calls what they are doing an act of genuine love. Can you hear the power of love? No matter what they experienced or were going through in life, they had an abundance of joy which overflowed in an expression of loving generosity. Be so full of joy
that it overflows in promiscuous expressions of love.
Living for Christ changes everything. As Paul affirms in 2 Corinthians 1:24,
“We are workers with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith.” God created you to glorify Him. Your joy is in glorifying Him. For God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. Amen.