Intro: One of the subjects rarely talked about is death. It is morbid to talk about dying. People who have illnesses talk about how good their doctor is or they compare notes on how effective their medicines are. The fact is nobody wants die. The only exceptions are those who have lost all hope in life and can’t take the different challenges and guilt they carry that they commit suicide, an example of that in the Bible is Judas. There are also the religious fanatics who give up their lives to kill others so they can receive a great reward in heaven as taught by their religion. But not all who are followers of this religion are also willing to give up their lives. We want to live and live as long as possible. There are also some who live their lives as if it has no end and some even don’t care. But the truth of the matter is,
“Just as man is destined to die once and after that to face judgment.” Heb. 9:27
Those who end their lives intentionally does not know that there is another life that will even be more dreadful, the judgment of God. Whether one believes that or not, that will happen. So do you want to live or die? Someone said if you are not ready to die you are not ready to live.
“The Paradox of the Christian Life”
Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Feast. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus. Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.” The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him. Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit not mine. Now it is time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.” John 12:20-33
Jesus is now on his last week to live on earth. He knew that His destiny to go to the cross was about to come. The Greeks that wanted to see Jesus must be recent converts to Judaism and were in Jerusalem to observe the religious feast. They heard about Jesus and wanted to see Him. Jesus knew what they needed to hear so He gave them this truth using the “kernel” to illustrate how He was going to be glorified and what they needed to do. He is telling these Gentile Greeks that their conversion to Judaism will not save them.
“Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed.” A kernel is the core of a grain, like a grain of wheat, rice or the inside of a nut. Outside is the husk and inside is the seed. When rice is harvested the farmer takes most of the grains to be used for food. If he wants to keep on producing rice, he needs to set aside some to replant. So when the farmer replants, he sows the seed into the ground. With water and moisture pretty soon the husk starts to rut. This is the picture of death before the seed can germinate. So after a little while, the seed breaks out of the husk and a plant is born. Soon after, this plant that came from a single seed will now produce many kernels that has seeds also in them. From one kernel it produces many. Jesus first referred this to himself when He said, “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.”
This is a paradox. Jesus lived to die. He lived a perfect life without sin, He was never sick of any disease and yet his life was cut short at age 33. What does “paradox” mean? It means a statement or proposition that contradicts itself but in fact is or may be true. Jesus did not kill Himself or committed suicide but He gave up His life as the sacrificial Lamb as payment for the sins of the world. He did not deserve to be punished but was falsely accused and unjustly crucified as a criminal. He knew it but He was willing to be punished for sins He did not commit. His death is good news for those who would believe in Him, because this is what He came and lived for. He died that many may live.
“Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. That He was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” 1 Cor. 15:3-4
Now what did He say about any man or woman. “The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” This is also another paradox for all people. Is it wrong to love ones own life? Who in his right mind would hate himself or herself? Although we sometimes say this when we do foolish things and hate ourselves because of the consequence we suffer for our bad choices. So what did Jesus mean when He said that in order for one to keep his life for eternity, he must hate himself. What one is to hate are the sins we have committed together with our self- centered life. There are many things in our lives that we love starting with ourselves, worldly activities, the pleasures of sin and most of all we want to live our lives our way and hate to be told what to do. When we love ourselves we only want what is good for us without any concern for the good of others and worse of all what God has to say. We work ourselves to death so to speak and go after enriching ourselves so we can indulge in all the pleasures of a good life. The Bible says that anything one loves more than God has become an idol for him and that includes ones self. Jesus says in order for one to keep his life he must lose it. A paradox.
Jesus is telling the whole world that if you want to have eternal life to spend eternity with God, one must first die to self and all the sins we have committed and are committing and believe this truth.
“For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” Rom. 6:23
God will give us the wages we deserve, death, unless someone without sin dies in our behalf and only Jesus Christ can do that and did that.
There is a popular saying in relation to loving people. We are to hate the sin but love the sinner. But does God have that same view? The Bible describes God is love. Jesus preached this message God gave him to proclaim.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
God the Father loved the world in this way. The world refers to all the people who are already sinners and condemned to go to hell. Yet God did the only way He can forgive and love sinners. He gave us His Son.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Rom. 5:8
What’s the condition of all people in the world and the reason Christ died?
“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.” 1 Tim 1:15
So, what must one be willing to do to receive eternal life? Admit and hate
all the sins he has committed against God. God cannot love both the sin and the sinner at the same time. All the pleasure of sins, love for the world and ones self are to be given up to Jesus for Him to pay. Jesus will only pay for our sins when there is repentance and resolve to sin no more. And one cannot love God, love sin and self. Love for self and sin must go and die. Only then will the love of God reach the sinner. The crossbar in the cross blocks the love of God because God who is holy cannot be one with sin. Sin must be punished to satisfy God’s justice and Jesus took the wages in our behalf. Just as Jesus died for our sins we also must die to self and sin.
Here is a trustworthy saying: “If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him.” 2 Tim. 2:11
After one gets save and have eternal life should we now follow the footsteps of Jesus our Lord and do everything He says, His way?
“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his steps.” 1 Pet. 2:21
What particular step should we follow our Lord? Just like the kernel of wheat, we die to self every day so that we will produce many seeds. The seeds now that we produce are disciples of Jesus Christ. This is what Jesus talked about in this parable, which we will look into in the near future,
“But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” Matt. 13:23
Did Jesus know what kind of death He would have to go through? Yes. This was revealed long before He was born. He knew it that’s why he was troubled and distressed in his heart and soul. Thank God He did not give up and asked to be saved, for where would we be? Lost, no Savior and no hope.
He accomplished the very reason He came for. Peter also affirmed this truth.
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds we are healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd the Overseer of your souls.” 1 Pet. 2:24-25
Everything Jesus did was for the glory of His Father. When Jesus said, “Father, glorify your name!” He was trusting in His Father and the power of the Holy Spirit to see Him through the cross because this is the will of God.
“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” Heb. 2:9
In the same way when we surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and die to self, what will happen? We will be used by Christ to reproduce disciples.
“This is to my Father’s glory that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15:8
After the resurrection of Christ and before He returned to heaven, He left two ordinances to be observed by His church, Believers Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Baptism identifies one who has repented of all sins and received Christ as Lord by following the example of Jesus. Baptism does not save anyone for it comes after one is already saved out of obedience to Christ’s command. It is pictured as having died to self and his body is fully immersed to picture the old life being buried then as he comes up out of the water with a new life in Christ.
The Lord’s Supper is for believers to remember the death of Christ by proclaiming it until he comes. We observe this once a month to remember His death so we don’t forget and we affirm our faith as one with Him. If one is not yet a believer because he has not repented and surrendered his life to the Lordship of Christ, then we are forewarned in the Scriptures that we should not take the elements representing His body and blood. At the Upper Room on the night before His crucifixion He told His disciples that one of them was going to betray Him. Judas did not admit it and when he took the bread dipped in wine he received the judgment of God. He took the elements in an unworthy manner. So if you have not made this commitment with Christ I advise you not to take the elements. Or you may already be saved and you know there is sin in your life then repent and confess your sins first and ask for forgiveness before you take the elements.
The Lord’s Supper is for God’s glory and for our good. This means we have died to self by identifying with Christ in His death. We have His promise.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
If you are here today and the Holy Spirit is convicting you of your sins and your need to be saved, then come to Jesus. Repent and receive Him into your heart as your Lord and Savior, then you can participate in the Lord’s Supper.
Intro: Five of our young people together with Jayme and four others from Crosspoint left early this morning on a mission to New Mexico. They are going there for a purpose. They will renovate homes in an Indian reservation and other projects to connect with the people. They will join a group of 250 young people to do projects already lined up. I said last Sunday this gives them an experience to be on mission with Christ to reach the lost. For us who are left here and not as young and energetic as they are, we don’t have to go very far to connect with people to tell them the good news. We don’t even have to fix homes or do projects because we meet them everyday in our workplace, neighborhood, in supermarkets, relatives and friends we know who are not yet saved. In our last Sunday’s message our focus was to live for God’s glory and do the work He has prepared for us to do. Today we will look at who we are and our highest purpose. We are now going on our fifth year and I believe it is vitally important to know these truths so that those who have been saved will live their utmost for God’s highest purpose.
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” 1 Pet. 2:9-10
Notice again the object of Peter’s letter under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit addressing it to “you” mentioning it seven times in this passage. We have to remember that the letters of Paul, James, Peter, John and Jude are letters specifically to believers and followers of Jesus Christ. Peter reveals to them God’s work in salvation right at the beginning of his letter.
“To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood.” 1 Pet. 1:1-2
This of course includes us who are in Reno. Peter agrees with Paul about God choosing those He will save even before the creation of the world because of His foreknowledge. Foreknowledge means knowing before hand. This truth even goes back to the Old Testament when God chose the nation Israel, all of them descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.” Deut. 7:6
Jesus affirmed this truth Himself that God chooses whom He will save.
“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” John 6:37
And this is what Jesus did for those God has chosen to be save.
“I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word.” John 17:6
God did not only choose the people beforehand before the creation of the world but the Triune God had also decided who will die in their behalf to pay for their sins and save them from going to hell. The Holy Spirit revealed this truth to Peter also in this same letter just before our text.
“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.” 1 Pet. 1:18-20
God’s plan in saving sinners had already been revealed by Peter in the first two verses of his letter. But how does one know that he has been chosen? Jesus said, that those that were given to Him to be saved by His Father would obey. This is the work of the Holy Spirit to make them obey. So the question we ought to ask ourselves, is this true in my life? Am I obedient to every command the Lord reveals to me through His Word? Only you and I can answer that. Here’s what Jesus commanded His disciples to teach.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matt. 28:19-20
Going back to our text, “you are a chosen people”. This is the status of every one who is saved. It is very clear that it is God who chooses and not we choosing God. After I got saved, I thought it was I who chose to repent and receive Christ. Yes, I decided to respond to the gospel, a must for everyone to be saved. I made this big step of faith and chose to give up all my sins, that’s repentance and surrendered my life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Only then did I experience forgiveness of all my sins and assurance of salvation. This is something we cannot cause to happen. It is miraculous when our consciences are cleansed from all guilt. I did not understand being chosen then, but now through the knowledge of the truth the reason I chose to believe and repent was because God worked to convict me by His Spirit of sin, judgment, hell, heaven and salvation through Christ alone. All these are worked out by God to save His elect. Here’s what the saved Jews said,
“So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.” Acts 11:18b
And caused them to believe because...
“When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.” Acts 13:48
Every one God has chosen to save are equal in status. There is no race, color, gender, education, rich or poor. Everyone is equal because we are all paid with the same price. There is no favoritism with God. And we are…
“A Royal Priesthood.” One can be the poorest among Christians or uneducated and yet are now members of royalty. In England and some monarchial government only those who are descendants of the King will be appointed to the throne by succession. They are referred to as having royal blood. Prince Charles and Prince William have the same blood as the poorest of their subjects. But believers when they become sons of God enters into the Royal family having become one with the King of kings and Lord of lords. And because we all have access to the King we are given the office of priesthood. In the Old Testament only the High Priest chosen from among the priest can enter God’s presence and only once a year. The rest of the descendants of Levi are only to minister outside the Holy of Holies to present the sacrifices by killing the lambs on the altar and offering the blood at the Holy Place. Their role was to bring to God the offerings of the people. However, with Jesus being now our High Priest who is seated at the right hand of God the Father, every believer can approach God with confidence at the throne of grace to present offerings. We offer first ourselves as a living sacrifice. Then we present our prayers and petitions for others need. Unbelievers have no access to God because they don’t belong to God.
We now have this “New Life in Christ” and are “A holy nation.” Because God is holy we are to be holy. Jesus is the only human who ever lived a holy life because He did not sin. Holy is God’s nature and practice. Only Jesus had both. He was holy because He is the Son of God and his practice was holy because he never sinned. What about us? All of us are born with a sinful nature and sinned in life. How then can we be holy? Here’s how?
“In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.” Heb. 2:10-11
At our conversion, we are immediately given the Holy Spirit to live in us. In our standing with God we are holy, that’s our position. God sees His Son in us and we are clothed with His righteousness. But our life is not yet holy. We go through a process called sanctification that is worked out by the Holy Spirit for us to follow and obey our Lord Jesus Christ. As we obey we will become like Him and less and less of what we were. The Holy Spirit’s work is to change us to be holy in our spirit. As our spirit is growing and being changed from the inside the outward will exhibit the change from the inside. The Holy Spirit continues to work in us until we become like Jesus.
“For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Phil. 2:13
Many who claim to be Christians but are not becoming like Jesus is because they don’t have the Holy Spirit in them. They may reform for a while but return to their life of sin like the dog who returns to his vomit. They have no power to obey and no one to convict them of sin. This was prophesied in the Old Testament and is the evidence of those who are chosen.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you: I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” Ezek. 36:26-27
“A people belonging to God.” There are only two classes of people in the world. Either you belong to God or to the devil. Those belonging to God are saved and those belonging to the devil will be with him in hell. Where did we all come from and who was our father? This was who we all were.
“Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God.” Once refers to when we were still unsaved. Wasn’t this true then of us?
“You belong to your father the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning not holding to the truth for there is no truth in him. When he lies he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44
Weren’t we all liars and murderers? We will say, no I didn’t kill anyone. But God saw what’s inside our hearts.
“Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.” 1 John 3:15
If hatred is murder to God, I wonder how many people have we already killed and murdered? Is there anyone here who has not wished evil against anyone out of hatred from the heart? That’s where we came from before you and I were saved. Were we people of God then? No. We were all children of the devil. There is a wrong teaching and claim that we are all children of God. That’s a lie. We are all creatures created by God and this is how and only then one becomes God’s child.
“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12
The “him”, “his” and “he” is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ.
That’s when we changed fathers. Formerly we did not belong to God as our Father but after receiving Jesus Christ we now belong to God, a people of God. This was conferred to the disciples of Jesus after He died and was raised from the dead. This was the right Jesus gave them spoken through…
Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, “I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God. Mary Magdalene went to tell the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.” John 20:17-18
What’s the Purpose God chose to save us? “That you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
Last Sunday the message focused on our being saved for God’s glory to do good works. How do we declare the praises of him? First of all we need to remember where we came from, from darkness to the wonderful light. Darkness represents hell and our condition as being dead and separated from the light. The one who wrote the hymn Amazing Grace expressed it well, the truth where he came from to where he is now all by the grace of God. He didn’t do anything to deserve to be saved, for how can a blind make himself see. Salvation was all by God to an undeserving sinner such as you and me.
People who think they deserve to be saved because they are not as bad as other sinners and have done many good works will give glory to themselves. But for those who found favor and mercy from God will have nothing to boast but boast in the One who had mercy and grace to save them from going to hell. Save ones boast in the Lord.
So how do we declare the praises of Him? Declare it from the heart by expressing it through our mouth, singing praises to His name, testifying of His goodness and faithfulness. Where do you do that? In the congregation of God’s people at the place we have designated to meet at an appointed time. This is when we meet for worship on the first day of the week, Sunday. There are some who take worship lightly and are in the habit of doing. But why should we? I believe that when we fully understand what God has done for us, we will be forever grateful and thankful to the One who saved us from going to hell. God was not obligated to save us but He did it out of His love for us even though we did not deserve to be loved. That’s the reason we love Him because He first loved us. We worship out of our love for God who is worthy of our worship. He gave us the promise that God the Father, God the Son and the Holy Spirit who is already in us will be in our midst. Worship is our highest expression of gratitude that honors and pleases God. This is the highest purpose God chose to save us that brings glory to God. The last words after all the Psalms were written concludes with this,
“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.” Ps. 150:6
For as long as I live on earth I will praise the Lord, declaring His excellences and wonderful deeds to men especially to His chosen ones. Is worship a command? Jesus was tempted by the devil by offering to give Him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor if he will bow down and worship him. What did Jesus say? What would you say?
“Away from me, Satan! For it is written: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.” Matt. 4:10
Then we declare the praises of him by the testimony of our lives that is being conformed to the likeness of God’s Son. Having… and ready to…
“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” 1 Pet. 3:15
Do you know if you have been chosen or not? You may be here today but have not repented of your sins and received Jesus as Lord in your heart. Is God drawing you to His Son? Come to Jesus…
Intro: I did not have the privilege of going on mission trips when I was a teenager. It was for the simple reason that I was not saved. I am so proud and thankful to the Lord for inviting five of our young people to join Him in His work to be His witnesses. You are privilege to be given an orientation, hands on experience working for the Lord and meet people whom you have never met in your life. They may be of different race, gender, age and character. And most probably they are lost. It is your faith and by faith you are going there to be witnesses so that when God opens the door of opportunity, you will tell them about the love of God and their most important need other than a renovated house, the salvation of their soul.
This is a follow up of last week’s message. Let me refresh you on the title “Jesus lived to please only God His Father.” When I used the word only, I meant it to say that this was His priority in life. Everything else comes after this purpose as to what He was living for. One cannot please God if his concern is only about himself or with divided interest. This is being self-centered. The opposite is being God-centered. However, people can also be others-centered. There are those who have sincerely given up their lives serving others and even country but not to please God. One example is Gandhi. He sacrificed his life for his country. He became a hero. But did he do that to please God? Or one can work to serve others believing that their efforts will save them and make them go to heaven. And many others who give up their lives for their religious belief to even commit suicide to kill the infidels. But will this get them to heaven? No.
So here’s the point, if one is not saved whatever work, good deeds one does even if he believes he is doing it for God, it will not do him any good. Why? For it is not what we do that will save one from going to hell and go to heaven. There is God’s way and the only way for anyone to be saved is through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Eph. 2:8-9
Today we will look at what one does after he gets saved in order to please God. So here’s the title of this message.
Our bulletin cover pictures a potter’s hand working on clay. Who decides what to do with the clay? Can the clay do anything and decide what he wants the potter to do? No. Here are truths we see from our text.
“For We are God’s workmanship”. First and foremost is the source of one’s salvation is God. We are saved by the grace of God. Not because of anything we have done so as to deserve being saved but only by the sovereign grace of God. By God’s own choosing according to His will. This truth blows my mind that God had in His mind those He will save even before He created the world. “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” Eph. 1:4 God’s purpose in choosing to save some is for them to be made holy and blameless. Holy and blameless was how Jesus was and how He lived his life and that is how we are also predestined to become. Our salvation and purpose was already in God’s mind. And at His appointed time after we have lived for a while, through circumstances He engineered, He saved us through His Son. “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.” Eph. 1:11 “Created in Christ Jesus.” Now Jesus comes into the picture. Jesus is the only means through which God saves those He has chosen to save. Without Jesus, God will save no one. Created here means, we are already spiritually dead and need to be recreated. Why? Because we are all descendants of the first Adam, who inherited his sinful nature and by that nature we sinned the moment we came to know right and wrong. Immediately we died spiritually. God has to recreate us and be joined with the One who is perfect, righteous, pure and holy. Our spirit has to be made alive by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who is the substitute of Jesus to live inside us, not only to give life to our dead spirit but also to change us from the inside out to become like Him. The key to this new creation is to be “in Christ.” In Christ meaning being one and joined with Him. Everything depended on Jesus and none other. Salvation is all about the redemptive work of God through His Son, for without Him we are nothing and we can do nothing. When God chose to save you and me, He did it in love, that being His character. It came by grace because no one deserves His love but only His wrath for our rebellion and sin. Why He chose to save you and me, I do not know. God has all the right to decide that because He is God. Paul quoted this truth from the Old Testament found in Exodus 33:19, “For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” Rom. 9:15-16 Mercy is God withholding the punishment for what we deserve but instead showed us compassion to save us from going to hell. Grace is God giving us something we don’t deserve. For this, I am forever grateful and thankful that He loved me and that I will live my life so as not to disappoint Him but to please Him at all times and in every way just as Jesus did. Shouldn’t this be the goal of everyone God has saved? May we be a delight and joy to God because he was pleased to save us, “In love, he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will, to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the one he loves.” Eph. 1:5-6
“To do good works.” Now comes the good works. Good works matter after one is already saved. Good works is out of our obedience to the will of God.
Therefore, my dear friends as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Phil. 2:5-13
“Working out your salvation with fear and trembling” refers to doing the work of God, after and because one is saved. The working out is not in order to be kept saved. Why do people work out in the gym? It’s because they are alive and living. Dead person cannot work out. That is the spiritual condition of everyone not saved. That is why God has to make us alive, born again because our spirit has died and once this spirit is made alive, our spirit will be empowered by the Holy Spirit to move the body to do the work of God. And how are we to work it out? With fear and trembling. Imagine yourself being a jeweler and you are given the privilege to cut a flawless diamond that is still in the rough. You are working with a tool that if mishandled will crack and damage this precious stone. Wouldn’t you work at it with fear and trembling? Not in the sense of being nervous that you have no control of your hands but you tremble of the thought of failing to do a good job. In the spiritual life, we are to live our lives with the fear of the Lord and tremble at His words. We tremble at the idea of displeasing the Lord. This is not the fear of punishment but of disobedience and taking the Lord lightly.
I have heard from many who are misled by religious teachers using the words of James concerning good works. Here’s a common objection to the gospel of grace and the free gift of God through faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ by misusing this Scriptures,
“What good is it my brothers if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes or daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” James 2:14-17.
The truth here is faith that does not result in works is dead. Anyone can claim to have faith. In what is not clear. Then another one is saying,
“But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” V. 18a And here’s how James clarifies what a true faith does.
“Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.” V. 18b
We see here three different kinds of beliefs and faith.
*One has faith but does not result in deeds or good works. That’s why different religions add works to faith. So it becomes faith plus works.
*Then the other is just focus on doing good works without faith in Christ.
*The third is because of his faith he does good works. The key word is “by”
that makes the difference. He has a living faith that results in works.
The irony of many who claims to believe in God is no better than this,
“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that and shudders.” James 2:19
They believe in God but do not obey just like the demons.
“Which God prepared in advance for us to do.” There is work for every born again Christian to do. God has a master plan to carry out for His people to do. God has different assignments for everyone He saves that will accomplish His plan of redemption to the glory of God’s glorious grace. An example of this is found in the book of Jeremiah.
“The word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart: I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Jer. 1:4-5
This is the God of the Bible who knew His plans for Jeremiah even before he was born. I believe that is also true to everyone whom He chooses to save by His grace. Is he capable to do this? Yes, because God is “Omnipotent” and “Omniscient.” Just read the book of Revelation. God showed John what would happen in the future. John saw it with his own eyes something that has not happened yet. Is that possible? Yes, because nothing is impossible with God. Here’s who God is as revealed through David,
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one came to be.” Ps. 139:13-16
Chew on this truth this week. This is our God who works out everything in conformity with His will. So what is this work that he has prepared for us? He will reveal that to us as we grow in knowing Him. The Christian life is compared to our physical growth. That’s why we have this purpose for our church, “To know Christ and to become like Him and to make Him known.” We can only become like Christ, as we know more and more of Him. He is the model that the Holy Spirit is working to conform us to His image in our character and being as we follow Him. There are many good works in the plan of God and He determines and has prepared what He would make us do when our character is ready to fit the assignment. Here is God’s plan in combining us together in this body of Christ known as His church.
“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the full measure of the fullness of Christ.” Eph. 4:11-13
Notice that it says works of service. It means many different works in building up the church. They are leading in worship, singing praises to God, leading in prayer, teaching in Sunday school, praying for others during the week, picking up those who have no ride, throwing the trash and cleaning up after our fellowship, etc. Who will enable us to accomplish all these? God the Holy Spirit does as we grow in obedience and dependence on Christ.
“For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Phil. 2:13
And because you believe, trust and by faith obey to do the will of God, this results in giving you the confidence to do the work of God.
“I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Phil 4:13
Young people, when you go on this mission trip believe and trust the Lord that He will give you the strength to work and accomplish what He called you to do. Rely on His grace.
Lastly, this ought to be the main goal in life and how we ought to live our lives in order to please God.
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Cor. 10:31
You may be here today and have not yet been born again and given this new life in Christ, God has brought you here for a purpose. First you need to hear the gospel that will save you and then receive eternal life, God loves you and gave you His Son for this very purpose,
“Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised from the dead according to the Scriptures.” 1 Cor. 15:3-4
How does this gospel give eternal life? First you must admit that you are a sinner and need God’s forgiveness. You must give up all the sins that you are doing, the sins you have done in the past even those you cannot remember anymore to Christ, and ask Him to pay for all of them. Then receive Him into your heart as your Lord with a commitment that from now on you will follow Him. Here is the final step.
“That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Rom. 10:9
Come to Jesus…
Intro: I would have us pick up from where the Lord’s message ended last Sunday. Let me quote that last passage again.
“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse: from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him – the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord – and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.” Isa. 11:1-3
This was a prophecy God promised to Israel that was fulfilled after 700 yrs. The Spirit of the Lord rested on Jesus when it came down at His baptism. The Holy Spirit only came upon Him because he was pure from birth and lived a sinless life even as a human being. Unlike us we need the Holy Spirit to be in us to give us a new heart for we are all fallen beings, born with a sinful nature, and on our own we cannot fully obey the Lord. Yet, even Jesus being human needed the Holy Spirit to empower him for ministry just like prophets of the Old Testament. Here’s how He revealed this to the Jews.
“Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole country side. He taught in their synagogues and everyone praised him. He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it he found the place where it was written.” “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:14-21
I have entitled our message today as,
“Jesus Lived to Please only God, His Father”
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: “Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on the cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Therefore, my dear friends as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Phil. 2:5-13
Jesus knew everything that was prophesied about him. It did not come into his mind automatically to know the Word of God, but he studied and read the Bible. Of the ministries the Holy Spirit had to Him, the one he delighted was the “fear of the Lord.” It was not fear of death or any other kind of fear but the fear to please His Father in everything at all times. It was a joy for Jesus to give great joy and pleasure to His Father. This was a delight to him.
What place does this fear of the Lord have in each of our lives? I mentioned in last week’s message that the children that were saved had feared death sometime in their lives. People who have no fear of death, is because they do not believe there is a God so they don’t also believe in hell. Solomon gave us this truth before anyone can come to know God.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” Prov. 1:7
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Prov. 9:10
And who gives this wisdom?
“For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Prov. 2:6
That’s the reason we are not neglecting our young children when they come to church, that they are taught the Word of God. However, that’s only 45 minutes in the week. The rest of the time they are to be taught by their parents at home. Here’s how the young pastor Timothy got saved.
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Tim. 3:14-15
Then we see that “Jesus humbled Himself.” Why did he have to do that since He is God who left heaven to live in a human body. He left His attributes as God in heaven and made himself nothing. “Nothing,” here means that compared to God, He considered Himself nothing by becoming human and taking the nature of a servant. In the eyes of the world servants are nobody? They are looked upon as the lowest in the rank of mans worth. What does a good servant do? He submits to the authority of his master and always has his master’s interest. If a servant in this world does not submit to his master do you think his master will be pleased? He will get fired. Humility is an attitude and behavior of showing respect and not thinking highly of one’s self. Jesus degraded himself by His choice for this was the will of His Father who has become His authority as was written of Him,
“And now the Lord says - he who formed me in the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob back to him and gather Israel to himself, for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord and my God has been my strength – he says: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.” Isa. 49:5-6
This is how we Gentiles also came into the kingdom of God. Because Jesus humbled himself, by first leaving heaven to take on human flesh and then in total submission to God His Father gave Himself to be crucified on that cruel cross to receive the punishment, not for His own sin but for our sins as payment to redeem and save us from going to hell. God cannot justify saving anyone without the payment for sins. He is just and must carry out His law.
“For the wages of sin is death…” Even just for one sin.
So, for a sinner to be saved he must humble himself before Christ seeing that he is already guilty of sin and deserves the punishment of God. The opposite of being humble is to be proud. Pride is in our nature. Cain the firstborn of Adam did not submit to worship God His way. He is in fact the father of all religions. Religion teaches that you believe in God and do the best you can to be good and do good to your fellowmen. By this teaching one does not have to humble self because he can work it out to gain his salvation. If one is saved this way then he can take pride of himself because of what he has done. But according to the Bible this is how one is saved.
“For it is by grace you have been saved through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works so that no one can boast.” Eph. 2:8-9
Salvation is by the grace of God given by God to those who bow their knees
to Jesus as Lord. Bowing is an act of humility. If Jesus humbled himself, do you think He will save anyone who is proud?
Humility goes before obedience. “He humbled himself and became obedient to death.” Jesus obeyed every command of His Father because He submitted Himself to do the will of God in everything. His ultimate obedience to His Father was to go to the cross. Do you think it was easy for him to submit? He was in anguish knowing the suffering and pain of being nailed to the cross and to take the punishment for the sins of the world. That is why He pleaded with His Father if there was a way He could skip going to the cross knowing beforehand that every sin man has committed is going to be laid upon Him and be punished for them all. He knew this because it was already written for Him as the will of God for Him.
“We all like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isa. 53:6
Was this very serious to Him? When Jesus went to pray he fell with his face on the ground. He pleaded three times. And the answer was there is none.
“And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” Luke 22:44
Every sin was punished by God and He bore the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors. That was the obedience of Jesus. If he was not willing to die for our sins then we all suffer the punishment in hell forever and ever. Can you even grasp what eternity is like? This is what one is saved from. Here’s what God said revealed to the apostle Paul.
“He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who believed. This includes you because you believed our testimony to you.” 2 Thess. 1:8-10
Has Jesus come already? Yes, to those who have received Him into their hearts. Don’t you marvel at what He has done in your life? How you have experienced being forgiven of all your sins as if a ton of bricks has been lifted from you. And most of all you don’t have any more fear of death. You have this new life and freedom from the slavery of sin which you had no power to say no before you got saved? Isn’t this a miracle that God has done in your life? But this is only true to those who have truly been saved by the grace of God through faith in Christ that you only believe though you have not seen Him. We only see Him now through the eyes of faith by His Word.
“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” Heb. 2:9
What a privileged to be one of those who heard the gospel and the testimony of those who brought it to us how you and I can get saved.
“And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” 1 John 5:11-12
Eternal life is a possession. You either have it or you don’t. And that possession is in the person of God the Son. Jesus did not remain human. After His death and burial He rose from the dead and returned back to His throne in heaven after accomplishing what He came for. He is now King of kings and Lord of lords. And here’s the good news that He did.
“Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” 1 Cor. 15:3-4
Jesus Christ accomplished the will of God to saved sinners from their sins. He accomplished this because He feared the Lord. He humbled Himself and was fully obedient to do exactly everything what His Father commands. He did all these because he loved God His Father.
In the same way, this is how one gets saved. One gets conscious of God leading to fear God. This is what happened to a Gentile that was saved.
“At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. He and all his family were devout and God fearing: he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God who came to him and said, “Cornelius!” Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked. The angel answered, your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter.” Acts 10:1-5
The account goes that Peter shared the gospel to him and to his household and they all got saved and after that got baptized. When Peter shared this with the believers in Jerusalem together with those he brought with him they gave this testimony, only then did the Jewish believers believed.
“So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?” When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.” Acts 11:17-18
Cornelius and his household got save by the grace of God. He feared God and then humbled himself to call Peter a Jew to hear from him the good news. After he got saved, he and his household obeyed the Lord in baptism and I believe from that time on became obedient to Christ their Lord.
Most if not all Filipinos believe in God, the God taught by religion. But not necessarily have the fear of God. Because they have been misled by wrong teaching of salvation and they do not fear the terror of God that He will send them to hell for theirs sins. One of the biggest deceptions that many have believed is that they will have a chance before they die to repent and be saved. In the meantime they can enjoy life and continue in their sins as long as they go to church and pray.
What is your testimony? Have you come to Jesus in the same way that Cornelius came to know Jesus Christ? God does not send angels to draw us to His Son anymore but He uses circumstances that will make you see your need for the Savior and hear from those He will send to bring you the good news. If you have not come to Jesus this way, repent of all your sins and confess Jesus as your Lord because you have surrendered your life to Him.
If you have already done this are you obeying Jesus as you should? Are you growing in your love for God to please Him in all you do. Your coming consistently to worship is the first step and evidence that you honor God by honoring the Son. For out of our worship God will reveal more of Himself and so we grow in knowing Him and loving the God who loved us with an everlasting love. May this be true for all of who have experienced God’s saving grace.
“And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” 2 Cor. 5:15
Come to Jesus and receive eternal life and then “live for Jesus.”