Intro: Our brother Severino got it right when he said, ‘the old Severino is buried in Donner Lake. When his whole body went under the water it was to identify with the death of Christ and his old life of sin. Jesus died and was buried and after three days was raised from the dead and alive forever more. In the same way, everyone who has repented of their sins and surrendered their lives to the Lordship of Christ is also raised from the dead. The death, burial and resurrection are pictured to us in water baptism. Water baptism does not save anyone. Water baptism follows after one is saved out of obedience to identify us with Christ. Jesus submitted to John for baptism even though he had no sin. Jesus did it to fulfill all righteousness set forth by God His Father. A true follower of Jesus will follow his Lord in water baptism to identify to the public that he or she has been saved by Christ to the praise of His glory. Infant baptism has no biblical basis nor can it do anything for a baby who is innocent and has no knowledge and awareness of sin and righteousness. One has to be saved first and be a disciple of Jesus then out of his love for Christ will obey. Today we will look at what happens to the saved one in regards to sin and what to do with it after being saved. I am borrowing the title from a devotional I shared with you two Sundays ago.
“The Exchanged Life”
“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been untied with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.” Rom. 6:1-7
I remember an old western movie that illustrates this truth. I wasn’t a Christian then but it was about a gunfighter who was fast on the draw. I can’t recall the title of the movie but the actor I can remember quite well, Glenn Ford. When you are the fastest gunfighter many will challenge you who really is the fastest. He didn’t want that life anymore so he moved to a town where he was not known and lived incognito. There came some bad people one day and took over the small town to lord it over them and harassed the people until Glenn Ford couldn’t help it, got his gun from retirement, practiced a little to save the town from these bad people. He came to challenge the leader to a draw. He killed him together with the rest when they came to the rescue. The end of the story was that they had a funeral service to bury Glenn Ford. But it was not him they buried but his gun representing his old life to kill no more. That’s the moral of the story.
This ought to be the life of one that has been saved from sin. The once self-centered, independent and sinful life is dead. This death came as a decision to change, turn away and give up all the sins that one has committed against a holy God. The basis of “an Exchanged Life” is this truth from the Word,
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Gal. 2:20
This is an exchange deal. We die, Christ lives. We exchange our life of sin with the perfect, righteous and sinless life of Christ. Imagine yourself being charged in court and your accuser is the devil with the record of all the laws of God that you have broken. The devil knows the law and the penalty for just one sin is death. But God’s gives a public defender for our defense. He also brings a record of Himself but is blank because He never broke any of the laws of God. He presents and offers Himself to you as your defense lawyer. After you to accept Him, He presents Himself to the judge to represent you. The devil says to the judge that the full force of the law must be applied. Your defense lawyer agrees and offers Himself to take the punishment for all the sins you committed under the law. Since your lawyer has not broken any of God’s law, God the judge accepts Jesus’ offer of His life as payment for every sin that you committed. Justice was satisfied because your defense lawyer took all the punishment that should have been yours to pay. On the cross two thousand years ago, Jesus gave His life to be punished for sins He did not commit. Because he became a man, he qualified to die in behalf of man in exchange for the life of one man. And because He is also God, He can pay for the sins of as many who will receive Him. God accepted His sacrifice to atone for the sin of man by raising Him up from the dead and gave Him all authority to be the Savior of the world. On the cross and by the shedding of His blood, Jesus fulfilled what He came to earth for. A few hours before He went to the cross, He prayed to His Father that He gets back the glory that He shared with Him before the creation of the world being God the Son, the second person of the Triune God.
“Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life; that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” John 17:1-5
And God did because for more than 33 years Jesus lived a sinless life in all righteousness so He can save sinners. Peter would bear witness to that,
“He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” 1 Pet. 2:22
So when Jesus comes to a sinner and says, “Repent and believe the good news,” what He is saying is “Do you want me as your defense lawyer? Do you want me to save you from going to hell, eternally separated from God? That is the big choice. The difference with our lawyers today is they cannot really know the truth and the crime committed by the accused. But Christ knows everything. We cannot lie to Him because He is God and knows everything about us from the time we were born, all the sins we have committed against God and all the laws we have broken. He knows whether there is true repentance or just a superficial admission of sin that has been exposed. God looks and sees what is in the heart and mind.
Repentance is not just being sorry for something we have done wrong. It is more than that. It is as if you are mourning for the dead and that dead person is you. Sorrowful for what we have done that will bring condemnation and eternal separation from God. Judgment has already been decided and just awaiting execution after one dies. But when one is convicted of sin and believed the good news, this is the response that is accepted by the One who will save us.
“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” 2 Cor. 7:10
I also believe what Jesus said that many people will be surprised to wake up one day in hell, who are religious, even serving God but are not saved, why?
“Not everyone who calls me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy in your name and drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you. Away from me, you evil doers.” Matt. 7:21-23
Who in particular is Jesus referring to in this passage? They are ministers of the Word, pastors, evangelists, exorcists, and miracle workers. They will miss heaven for the simple reason that they never repented of their sins. One can do all these without being saved, and for what reason? They are motivated by love of money or selfish ambition. We just read the account of Balaam a diviner from our “Everyday with Jesus”, a voodoo priests that can pronounce a curse was hired by Balak to curse the Israelites. God told him not to do it. But when the price was right he succumb and went against the clear command of God for his love of money.
There will be false prophets according to Jesus in these last days and even during Paul’s time here’s how the preaching of the gospel became attractive.
“It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love knowing that I am put here in defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached and because of this I rejoice.” Phil. 1:15-18
A true believer does everything out of their love for Christ. That love came from God first. “We love because He first loved us.” This is the exchange deal. The grievous sin that is exchanged with love is our hatred for God. Do you know that even if one claims to believe in God, tries his best to follow Jesus and doing good works, can still be guilty of hating God?
“You shall not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” Ex. 20:4-6
All idolaters whether they know it or not are God haters. I was a God hater myself and aren’t we all? When we come before an idol in the place of worship and bow down to an idol representing Jesus Christ hanging on the cross aren’t we guilty of hating God? Now others will say I am not guilty of that because I don’t go to that church. But idols can come in many forms. Anything that one loves more than God is an idol. Money is another idol that many people worship. Even loving ones self because of ones beauty, talent and accomplishments. God is jealous with a holy jealousy when one loves anything more than the One who created him. Look back at your life, were you guilty of loving something more than God? I have encountered a number of people I have shared with who rejected the gospel because they cannot turn their backs against the beliefs of their parents. I feel so sorry for those who say, “I was born _____ and I will die a ______.” They just cursed themselves without realizing that they have rejected and refused the gift of God. Young people may have the fear of going against their parents. Here is what Jesus said about loving anyone more than God.
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes even his own life – he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26-27
Are we to hate our parents, wife, etc? Of course not. The hate here is to love less than God. When we have received the love of God and then love God in return, loving our family will follow, even our enemies in obedience to God.
When I realized how I hated God, I repented and asked for forgiveness giving up doing what was passed on to me. You see one cannot love God and hate God at the same time. This, I believe is the most serious of sins, hatred for God. The only way one can receive the love of God is to give up this sin and exchange it with the love of God. We give up to Jesus our sin of hating God and in exchange He gives us the love of God. Exchange deal.
Even if one is already saved does this make us pure and sinless? There will be sins that God will reveal each day that we are not aware of. This has to go and surrendered and exchanged for His righteousness. You have crucified yourself with Christ at your first encounter with Christ. Daily we consider ourselves dead so Christ will live His life in us by the power of His Spirit.
And thank God for His enduring love by providing us forgiveness of sin.
“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense – Jesus Christ the Righteous One.” 1 John 2:1
Intro: Sometime in the sixties there was a heavyweight boxer by the name of Casius Clay who was the champion in his class for a period of time. He was good and claimed himself to be the greatest. Later on he changed his name to Mohammed Ali. He may have been the greatest in his eyes for a time but where is he now? Sad to say he has Parkinson’s disease. There was also a singing group known as the Beatles from England who became very popular worldwide even until now. One of the members boastfully claimed that they are more popular than Jesus Christ. John Lennon was murdered in New York. I’m sure we can all name some people who worked very hard in their fields to become great at different times. But if one ends up in hell what good was that?
Some two thousand years ago, there was a group of followers of Jesus Christ who probably were aspiring also to be great and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” That may be a legitimate question and a goal to achieve so here’s how Jesus answered their question?
Who is the Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matt. 18:1-4
Now, there were two brothers among the twelve disciples of Jesus by the name of James and John who came to Jesus and ask Him this request.
“Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.” “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said, “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with? “We can,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.” When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John.” Mark 10:37-41
Anyone of us can be ambitious and aim to be great for God but the question is does this please the Lord if we are motivated because of this ambition? So now, let us examine what our text say.
Jesus answered their question of who is the greatest by using a child as an illustration to answer their question. Notice that He starts his answer with “I tell you the truth?” He means you better listen because this is the standard and anything other than this is a lie. He did not answer their question directly but stated this fact. “Unless you change.” The change Jesus is referring to here is to turn or repent and then “become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Also notice that he did not address the question but stated a more important issue, that of entering heaven. Many people today are doing the best they can to be good, work for God even serving the Lord believing and hoping that this allows them to enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus implied, are you sure you have entered the kingdom of heaven? Entering is the most crucial issue because what good is serving in the kingdom if one has not entered in. Jesus states the first requirement to enter the kingdom, “change, turn or repent.”
In fact this was Jesus’ first message in proclaiming the good news of God.
“The time has come,” he said, “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” Mark 1:15
Repentance is the first requisite before one can enter the kingdom. But what is to be repented of and changed? Every person born into this world is born to parents who have different religious background. One can be born to parents who are Muslims, Buddhist, Roman Catholics and even born again Christians. One of the workers in a Subway near our house is from India and brought up as a Hindu. So most likely whatever one has been exposed to is influenced by the religious beliefs of their parents about God and the way to heaven. As there are many religions in the world they all have their way how to enter heaven and what they believe about God.
Jesus made it very clear how one can enter the kingdom of God. One must first repent. But before you can repent one has to know first what sin is. I believe every person cannot deny that he has sinned. However, some can think that they are not as bad a sinner as some are and hope that they have a better chance of going of heaven. Here’s Jesus’ answer to this,
“But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” Luke 13:3
They only way we can know sin is by knowing the Ten Commandments. Yet repentance is not only for sin. A change is also a change of mind in what one believes will get him to heaven. Who are we following? Is it religion that teaches other than what Jesus said is the only way to get there found in the Bible? Most Christian religions believe in Jesus but also added requirements not found in the Bible. The Mormons have added another book and also traditions by the Roman Catholic Church as equal together with the Bible. So here’s what Jesus said is the only way.
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
The way is Jesus plus nothing. He holds the truth and He is the only one who can give eternal life. No religion can do that. There is no other way and there is no other name by which one can be saved but Jesus Christ. This is the most important decision one must make before he can enter the kingdom of heaven. Repentance is a change of mind in what one believes is the way to heaven. One cannot have both and cling to what one has trusted in together with Jesus. This is the change that must come first.
Then “Become like little children.” He is not literally referring here as to a child like Bree. What he means is to have a childlike faith. A faith that trusts in a person because he believes and have taken the step to embrace what that person says who He is and what He can do. That person is Jesus Christ.
When my first son John was still a child we used to play in our bed. I would toss him in the air and catch him and he loves the thrill of flying in the air. Then I would move out of the bed and tell him to jump to me and I will catch him. Do you think he would doubt that I am able to catch him? No. That’s a childlike faith. Why does he trust me? Because I am his father, believes in me and knows me. What hinders a lot of people is when they have all the education and has become wise in their own eyes that they make their own gods that suits their lifestyle. But what really keeps many from coming to Christ is to give up the sins that they love. They also find it hard to believe that heaven is free. We all have been brought up in our society that nothing is free. Everything has a price to pay. But the greatest and most important of all in life is to be saved from going to hell and salvation from that is free. Why because that is the only way God will save sinners. This is from God and not made up by man. All of humankind are already guilty of sin and cannot save himself, that’s why God provided a way for us to escape His judgment for our sins.
“The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom. 6:23
Because God is just, every sinner will receive the wages for his sin, death of his physical body and eternal separation from God. This is bad news that one has to believe first otherwise there will be no good news. After believing this bad news, only then can you believe the good news. A child can believe this even without theological training and knowledge. A child who is sick and does not feel good will welcome the medicine the father or mother gives. This is the physical and similarly in the spiritual. There must be a conviction of sin to see the need to be forgiven by a gracious and loving God. But one must come to Him on His terms. Repentance and believe the good news.
Another reason people will not come to Christ is because they do not want to lose their independence. They want to do what they want to do. In effect they make themselves their lord. Submission to another is hard to accept and to be dependent is weakness. Children growing up here in the USA are encouraged by most parents to be independent at an early age so they can be relieved of their responsibility to provide for them. Children also cannot wait to reach the age of 18 so they can become independent, live on their own and free to do what they want. They want freedom from the watchful eyes of their parents. But is this good? Children who have not been taught how to live in the way of the Lord and to fear the Lord will use their freedom to live as the world lives in the pleasures of sin. Christian parents should realize that God has entrusted to them a precious child for them to teach in the way of the Lord. They cannot pass on their salvation neither can children inherit the salvation of their parents. They will have to decide that for themselves. But children who have been instructed about the God of the Bible, to fear the Lord and by the godly example of their parents have better chances of coming to Christ when they reach the age of reason and understanding. Recently we have had children ages seven, eight and ten convicted of their sins and saw their need to be saved from what they have learned from the Bible through their parents and grandparent and in our Sunday school, came to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Drawn by the Holy Spirit to Jesus they came forward and confess with their mouths Jesus as Lord and prayed to invite Jesus into their hearts. This is the illustration Jesus used, that unless we become like little children with childlike faith one can never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Since eternal life is a gift of God, one can only have that gift by receiving what the gift represents, the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the gift of God to humankind out of His loving kindness. Jesus proclaimed this truth.
“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
And what does believing in Jesus mean? Believe what He says. Here is the good news as revealed to us by Christ through the apostle Paul.
“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
Christ died for us because of God’s love for you and me.
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:9-10
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Rom. 5:8
So it is very clear that God love sinners and the death of Christ is for sinners. Those who think that they are good enough to go to heaven and some others do not even admit that they are sinners have disqualified themselves. Recently, Sienna is re-opening this casino. I learned that there were 7,000 who applied for 300 positions. Management will sift through the applicants who have the best qualification for the job, but not so for the kingdom of heaven. The only qualification to go to heaven is this truth.
“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of which I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.” 1 Tim. 1:15-16
Can you imagine Paul, a very religious man, a Pharisee, who kept the law of God and yet he did not believe in Jesus out of ignorance. But when God by his mercy sent Jesus Christ, then Paul believed, turned away from following his religious belief in Judaism and received Jesus as his Lord. He then considers himself the worst of sinners saved only by the grace of God.
The conclusion now of the matter is this “Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Those who have already received Jesus as Lord came to Him in humility. This is how God the Father exalted His Son after he accomplished the way of salvation through the cross and gave Him authority to save.
“Therefore God exalted him to highest place and gave him the name 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.” Phil.2:9-11
The opposite of humility is pride. Pride deprives and keeps a person from the greatest possession one can ever have, eternal life. But to the one who acknowledges his sins and bow down his heart and knees in submission to Jesus as his or her Lord will have a place in heaven even while still alive here on earth. But those who refuses and rejects Jesus Christ as Lord he or she will bow down to Christ under the earth and that is in hell because Jesus is Lord of both heaven and of hell. He is the one who judges because all authority has been given to Him.
You may be here today and have not bowed down to Jesus Christ as your Lord in order to save you, come to Jesus. This is His invitation for you. Receive Him as your Lord, the gift of God who gives eternal life.
“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name he gave the right to become children of God.” John1:12
Here is how you come to Jesus and be saved,
“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. For it is with your heart that you believe and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” Rom. 10:9-10
So who is the greatest in heaven? The one who has humbled himself and given the right to enter the kingdom of heaven.
Come to Jesus…
Intro: The protest in Wisconsin that has been going on for more than three weeks is getting more and more intense, especially because the elected state officials did what they believe they had to do. But some people continue to stake their claim to the right of the union to have bargaining powers. I hope this will not result in a confrontation that will be bloody as the protesters are not giving up. Their stand is that they have rights to bargain with their employer who is the government.
In 1970 I was also involved in a union conflict with management. Our Airline Pilot’s union protested and gave notice to strike on job security issue because our union president was terminated. But we were ordered by the court not to strike. Our lawyers instead gave us another avenue that we can go on a wildcat strike by resigning in mass but a few did not. We did and I lost my job. It may be that the 1,500 teachers and state employees given notices of termination for not showing up for work will lose their job.
That was a very sad event that happened in my life. I gave up a very promising career in which I missed flying the biggest aircraft the 747, which was every pilots dream and for what? But as I look back at the lost opportunity, I can honestly say now that was a blessing in disguise. My destiny changed and eleven years later I experienced a turning point in my life when by the grace of God He saved me from going to hell and got born again. It would have been difficult for me to see my need for a Savior if I had not joined the strike, especially because those below my seniority jumped up and got trained not long after as captains of the 747. The glory, the money and the pleasures would have been hard to give up. Now I can thank the Lord for the loss, disappointment for the bad decision because it made me see my greatest need, the salvation of my soul. What I lost turned out to be a blessing. The focus of this message is what God the Son gave?
“What did Jesus give up?”
“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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” John 3:16-18
When God the Son was sent down from heaven to earth what did He give up? “His rights as God.” It’s still hard to grasp and fully understand this truth by what was revealed by the Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul.
“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 likeness.” Phil. 2:5-7
I highlighted “made himself nothing” because this was his choice. God the Son chose to give up all the rights of being God. That of being “Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnipresent.” He would be born with the nature of God but laid aside His attributes of being God. The nothing here means that what he was, and what he gave up. Another example of this is,
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” 2 Cor. 8:9
Paul was using this in the context of giving, to help Christians who were suffering in Jerusalem, to be generous as Christ was, as an act of grace.
God the Son who created everything in the world was even willing to be born in a manger instead of in a hospital bed with all its facilities. He went so low as to be born in a trough where animals eat and drink. After Jesus was born, he was dependent on her mother Mary to care for him. He could not even feed himself. I am sure he was breast fed so he relied in his mother Mary to feed him with milk. And as he grew up, he submitted himself to the authority of his parents when they should have submitted to His authority. As a young boy of twelve when the whole family went to Jerusalem to worship, Jesus gave importance to learning the Word of God and attended a Bible study at the temple. His parents went back when they found that he was not with them. They went back for him and found him after three days.
“Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” Luke 2:51-52
Jesus was obedient to His parents in keeping the fifth Commandment.
As He was growing physically and in wisdom, He also grew in favor with God and men, because he was obedient and totally in submission to God as His Father and he being the Son of Man. He gave up His right to being self sufficient, independent but made himself totally dependent upon His Father.
When it was time for Him to start His ministry, he submitted to John to be baptized in order to fulfill all righteousness as willed by God. When one has been born again and saved, baptism should follow the example of Jesus to identify as being one with Him and His follower. After Jesus’ baptism, He was now filled with the Spirit of the Lord to empower Him to do the will of God. He submitted to the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.” Luke 4:1-2a
Was it His will to go to the desert? No. It says he was led. It was God’s will.
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.” Matt. 4:1
God willed it for a purpose so that Jesus will experience the temptations you and I are facing today. Jesus’ response to the temptation also determines whether He will overcome sin or not. He resisted the temptation because of His knowledge of the Word and victorious by the power of the Holy Spirit
Although He is the Word of God, the author of the Bible to reveal Himself and the true God, He submitted to His very words and obeyed every command that He set and lived a life without sin from a pure heart. This is what he said of those who did not believe Him as is written from the Bible.
“You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” John 5:39-40
However, He did not have a will of His own to do whatever He wants to do but only did the will of His Father as was shown and revealed by the Spirit.
“I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees the Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” John 5:19
Jesus knew as he grew in wisdom and knowledge the will of God and what He was destined for, to offer Himself as the sacrificial lamb of God so that God can be justified in saving many sinners in the world. He knew what He would have to go through as prophesied by the prophet Isaiah,
“He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” Isa. 53:7
Jesus knew that he was not guilty of any sin or crime to be punished and be hanged on the cross but He knew what He had to do to accomplish the will of God. To us that would be unfair since he was innocent but to God that was His will and Jesus surrendered to the will of His Father. In fact he was so obedient to His Father as a testimony to the world of His love for Him.
“But the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.” John 14:31
What if we are unjustly charged of doing something wrong and did not do it. How would we respond? Most likely we would protest and clear ourselves. In the account of Joseph when he was tempted by his master’s wife but did not fall in the temptation to go to bed with her and out of her frustration she accused him of wanting to have sex with her, how did Joseph respond?
“When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.” Gen. 39:19-20
Joseph accepted this injustice as God’s will because he trusted in God that He knows what he has done and that God is just and will vindicate him. We see later that this was God’s plan for him to be in jail so that God can promote him to the highest office in Egypt second only to Pharaoh.
But let’s not forget and consider this, Jesus knew what he was to go through to accomplish what He came for in advance and even told His disciples.
“We are going to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.” Mark 10:33-34
I thank God that He does not reveal to me in advance what I may have to go through in life or the suffering I will go through. I need only trust Him that He knows whatever He allows that it is for His glory and for my good. Jesus knew exactly how He would suffer that’s why on the night He was to be betrayed He prayed to His Father three times and this was His response.
“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Matt. 26:39b
Then He prayed again the second time because the answer was no.
“My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” Matt. 26:42b
Notice that the first time he prayed, He was asking if it is possible. He was not demanding that His request be granted because He believed. He was just presenting a request but left it to His Father to do as he pleases. Then after he got no as the answer He prayed again. If it is not possible, meaning that He was ready to accept His Father’s will and now in total submission that His will be done. Notice that He even said “may” meaning that this was now His request without any resentment or complaint for what He will go through. There is no name it and claim it and no demanding.
When we go through any kind of trial, could we pray the same way as Jesus did? Like, if it is possible, please heal me or deliver me from this hardship with the willingness that God’s will be done. And if God does not answer can we accept it with an attitude of thankfulness for the privilege of suffering for Christ’s sake accepting it as the will of God.
“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thess. 5:18
We can only have the attitude of being thankful when we trust the Lord with all our heart and by faith submit to His Sovereign will. What Jesus went through was for Him to pay for our sins. We cannot pay for our own sins because we already deserve God’s punishment. Only Jesus can pay for our sins by giving up His life and give up His right to live. But here is what God has promised those who have already been redeemed.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” Jer. 29:11-12.
What if we come to God calling upon Him and complaining because of what we are going through, do you think God will answer? Here’s the example of the apostle Paul when he was afflicted with a disease or sickness,
“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassing great revelations, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from 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 about my weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Cor. 12:7-10
Was Paul suffering as the consequence of his sin? No. Just like Jesus, he was faithful to His Master but because of what God has revealed to him, it was for his own good that he would have a weakness in his body and not just a cold or headache but some ailment that would torment him. God allowed this for his good because if he was in perfect health he could fall into the sin of pride. God revealed to him mysteries beyond that of any man. God made him experience to see heaven while alive and then came back to earth.
“I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know – God knows. And I know that this man – whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know but God knows – was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell.” 2 Cor. 12:1-4
I believe Paul was referring to himself but was not allowed to describe what he saw and tell what he heard. So be careful of those who claim to have gone to heaven and came back. We have the Scriptures that describe what heaven is like as was shown to the apostle John and written in Revelation.
Every born again believer of Jesus Christ is a co-heir with Christ. What Christ was entitled when He was on earth we also share. The rights He gave up we also ought to give up. I believe this is the only right that we have.
“Yet to all those who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12
And as co-heir of Christ this is also the privilege that we have for His sake.
“Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Rom. 8:17
We are to live as Jesus lived, in full submission to the will of God, in total dependence to the Holy Spirit and if we suffer let it be to the glory of God.
“To this you were called , because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. He committed no sin and no deceit was found in his mouth.” 1 Pet. 21-22
That glory will be in heaven when we will receive a rich welcome by the Father when He says “well done good and faithful servant.” But while we live here on earth we live for the glory of Christ.
Is there anything you are holding on and have not given all to Christ. He gave us His all, what do we ought to give Him in return?
Intro: Last Sunday we saw the other side of God as the God of wrath. It is also very clear that those who reject the Son, the wrath of God remains on him. Because we are all sinners by nature, we are the objects of God’s wrath. When God gives one over to do as he wishes and takes away all restraints what will that cost him? No more hope and the certainty of eternal punishment in hell. According to the Word of God, they have no excuse. God has given us the gift of conscience that we are able to determine in our minds what is good and evil. We also learned what Jesus said there will be signs before He returns. I believe those signs are already happening at faster intervals like the birth pains before a baby is born. Here is also what Paul wrote to Timothy what will happen later in time.
“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.”1Tim. 4:1-3
On one hand we have people who are given to sexual perversion by having relationship with the same sex now legal in some states to marry and on the other hand there is a religion that forbids people from marrying. This means that they disqualify themselves from serving God if they marry or are married. Why? Because their consciences have been burned and does not have any sensitivity to discern what is taught in the Bible but instead they follow traditions handed down to them. Who will pay the price and what will be the cost to the ones who reject the truth and do not obey the gospel will pay the price in hell. Today we will look at the other side of God, which is not only good news but the greatest news ever.
“The Cost to God in Loving You”
“See my servant will act wisely, he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Just as there were many who were appalled at him – his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness – so will he sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand.” Isa. 52:13-15
Who is the servant referred to in this passage? It is none other than Jesus Christ. This prophecy was given to God’s prophet Isaiah about 700 years before Jesus will be born. Notice the reference to Jesus as a servant of God. How can that be when Jesus is God the Son equal with God in their attributes? Scriptures tells us that although God is one, their being one does not mean that it is only one person. On the sixth day of creation,
“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…” Gen. 1:27
Who is the “us” referring to? Let’s review this basic truth.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Gen. 1:1
Who was this God being referred to? No distinction yet. But on the second verse, who is revealed?
“Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” Gen. 1:2
We see the Spirit of God revealed. In the next verse there is a conversation.
“And God said, Let there be light,” and there was light.” Gen. 1:3
Who did God say and commanded to be the light?
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
In the first three verses of the Bible we see God as a Trinity. Three persons identified by their own specific names and functions.
“Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Matt. 28:19b
Notice that it does not say “names,” otherwise it will refer to one person, but three different distinct persons having different names of themselves.
Why is this very important for us to understand and believe? Because only then will we appreciate and be forever thankful how much God loves those who are saved by His grace and the cost to God in order to love us. So when God said my servant will act wisely, He was referring to the incarnate Christ. God the Son becoming a man as a servant of God and revealed to us in the New Testament.
“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 likeness.” Phil. 2:6-7
Jesus Christ left His glory in heaven and came down to earth and lived in a human body. According to this passage we cannot grasp what happened to His being God and equality with God something for us to fully understand but only to believe. He was God natured unlike us humans who have the sinful nature. He made himself nothing, not as someone who is worthless but he divested himself of all his power as God then took the nature of a servant.
Let us first consider the cost to God the Father. He gave up the fellowship of God the Son as equal. His relationship with Jesus was now that of God and man. Then God the Father would later make Jesus suffer for the sins of sinners and those who have broken the law.
“Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. 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. 53:4-6
Those who wanted him crucified believed that he deserved to be punished by God for the sin of blasphemy. This happened earlier accusing him of,
Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these are you stoning me?” “We are stoning you for any of these,” replied the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because you a mere man, claim to be God.” John 10:31-33.
Had they known that Jesus was the fulfillment of what God promised as their Messiah and Savior, they would not have done what they did. In fact this Savior was revealed right after the fall of man when they disobeyed God in the garden and were lost to the devil. God cursed the serpent representing Satan and that He would send another Adam to crush his head and save His people from their sins.
“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head and you will strike his heal.” Gen. 3:15
God fulfilled this promise when God the Son became the offspring of a woman. This was the way God would conquer the power of the devil.
“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” Heb. 2:14-15
And God did it out of His love for those He would give to His Son to save.
“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
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1
God the Father did not only sacrifice the fellowship of equals but also did what was decided beforehand in saving sinners, gave him up to the cross.
“Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.” Isa. 53:10
It blows my mind to understand what manner of love is this that a father would make his only son suffer the punishment that his enemies deserve. For about three hours God the Father turned His back and abandoned the fellowship of His Son and poured out His wrath for your sins and mine and laid it on His innocent and sinless Son so that He can love us, His enemies and be justified to forgive our sins because payment for sin has been paid.
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Cor. 5:21
Now let us see the cost of loving us by the Son of God. In the council of the Triune God and in their foreknowledge being ‘Omniscient” God the Son was chosen to be sacrificed and be punished for sins he did not commit. This was decided before the creation of the world because they knew that the man they would create will sin and join the devil on his way to hell. So they made provision to rescue and save them from the devils hold. The price God would pay in order to buy us back from the power of the devil is very high. It is life for life. Here’s how God revealed it through Peter,
“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 time for your sakes. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.” 1 Pet. 1:18-21
Some two thousand years ago, God fulfilled that promise when God the Son left His throne and glory in heaven and came down to earth in the flesh. God the Son the creator of the world became like one of His created.
“Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” John 1:3
The only difference was that He was born of a virgin conceived by the Holy Spirit and did not inherit the sinful nature of man. He was sinless from birth and did not sin at all throughout his life. This is the cost to God the Son.
“He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” Isa. 53:2-3
Just think for a moment, the God who created everything in its beauty and splendor gave up all the beauty that He is. He was not a ladies man and as they say, he had the face that only a mother could love. He was the butt of jokes because he was despised among all men. Probably in today’s generation he would not be welcomed in any group or club. When he comes around people they would hide from him. Why? Because he was not like them, He was different. This was how John describes him.
“The light shines in the darkness but the darkness has not understood it…He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” John 1:5, 10-11
He was different because He was holy. Perfect not in beauty but in his character. He was avoided because he was not like them and here’s why.
“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” John 3:19
That is why God the Father has to draw us to Him otherwise on our own we will not seek Him. Are you experiencing now that after you became a Christian you are losing friends and some are even avoiding you? Because when Jesus came into your life, the light entered in you. You are now the light of the world and those who are in the dark and loved their life of sin will hide and avoid you. You also will be despised and persecuted.
This is the final cost to Jesus for the love of God to reach us, sinners.
“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Isa. 53:5
Who pierced his hands and feet and his heart? Who crushed his body and punished for sins he did not commit. Who slashed his back with whips that pierced through his flesh? Isn’t it our sins. Every sin that we have committed in the past and even now is a slash on his back and piercing on his body. During Holy Week, there are some people in the Philippines who slash their backs believing that it will pay for their sins. In India they pierce their bodies and inflict themselves to atone for their sins and guilt. What about here in America, it has become fashionable to pierce their faces and unknowingly mutilate their flesh for beauty sake. Women pierce their ears to adorn themselves with earrings as was the practiced by women in the Bible.
Have we come to fully realize and understand that it was our sins that caused Jesus to suffer and be punished for sins He did not commit? If we did not sin, Jesus would not have to die. It was because we sinned that cost the life of Jesus to suffer the worse of punishment, that of a criminal and not just to pay for one’s sin but for the sins of everyone His Father will give him to die for. You multiply the sins we all have committed in this room and not only ours but for the sins of every one of those He will pay for in the world. That was the punishment He was willing to suffer for, the cost he bore out of His love for you and me.
“For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” Isa. 53:12c.
Here’s the good news that saved us and whoever believes in Him.
“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
“And after the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.” Isa. 53:11
Where is Christ Jesus, God the Son today? He is back on His throne in glory, high and lifted up and worthy of our worship and our all.
“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 every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Phil. 2:9-11
What is it costing you to love the Lord. He gave His all, what will you give?