Intro: Every one of us has a passion for something. So, what are you passionate about? Here’s Webster’s definition of what passion is. It is an intense or overpowering emotion such as love, joy, hatred or anger. It can be an intense enthusiasm or interest on a particular subject or activity. Last week before the super bowl there were four men friends that were featured in the news by MSN about their passion to be at every Super Bowl, but they will miss going to this game for the first time. Passion could be for the arts, music or sports even in what you are working on. We call this workaholic.
Tomorrow many will show their passion for their love ones. Should this only be for this special day? If you love your wife or husband shouldn’t it be for 365 days a year? If you want to treat your wife to a special dinner, don’t do it tomorrow night. There’s going to be a long line and long wait for a table. Do it the next day. What about the passion of hatred, enough to even commit suicide in order to kill. Then there are the religious fanatics. That’s passion too. To be passionate is not necessarily wrong for there are good passions and also bad. In the NT Paul gives advise to the unmarried to stay single but if they cannot control themselves its better to marry than to burn with passion. Today we will look at the highest and noblest of all passions. I borrowed this title from the movie and added.
“But the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.” John 14:31
“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 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. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sin against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf:Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says, ‘In time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’ I tell you now is the day of salvation.” 2 Cor. 5:14-6:1-2.
I used to work for an ambassador of the Philippines to Japan. He represented the President on matters of mutual interest for the two countries. When he speaks to the President of Japan he was speaking for and in behalf of his President. But he was only limited to this country and didn’t have any business with the rest of the Japanese people nor to other nations. But every born again believer of Jesus is an Ambassador of Christ. His territory is not limited to one country but to the whole world. His primary mission is to tell the whole world from the most ordinary person to the highest the good news of God. And when one is to represent his Master, he must know what the message is and how to deliver it. There is a protocol. In other words there is a way and manner how to deliver this message of reconciliation in an effective way. And what will drive one to do this? his passion for Christ.
So let’s first see what was the passion of Christ? A simple truth to answer this question is Christ had the passion to do the will of His Father.
“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.
But what compelled Him to have this passion? When Jesus was about to be crucified which He already knew was coming, He made an appeal with His Father if there was another way so as to avoid the cross. God said there is no other way and didn’t even have to say anything because the answer was no. Did Jesus lose his passion to do the will of His Father? NO. Three times he pleaded and three times he submits “not my will but your will be done.” Why was He willing to go through the pain and suffering of being mocked, humiliated spat on, beaten up with multiple lashes and finally be nailed on the cross to pay for the sins of the world. It was because He never doubted the love of His Father for Him.
“For the Father loves the Son and shows Him all He does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life even so the Son gives life to who he is pleased to give.” John 5:20-21.
Two things Jesus stated here about His Father. God His Father loves Him and He will also raise Him three days after He dies. This is the passion that made Him do what He did. The love of God His Father was the compelling reason Jesus did not lose His passion to do the will of God. He did what He did, out of His love for His Father. And because of what Jesus will accomplish His Father promises this to Him.
“Moreover, the Father judges no one but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.” John 5:22-23.
Jesus ultimately accomplished what He came for by offering Himself as a sacrifice to die on that cruel cross in order to pay for our sins. And for that,
“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 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” Phil. 2:9-11
Now then, who had this passion for Christ with the passion of Christ? The apostle Paul said this, “For Christ’s love compels us.” Compelled him to do what? Everything that Jesus commanded him to do and here’s why?
“We are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 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. 5:14b-15
Paul knew about Adam because he knew the Scriptures from the OT. That’s why he wrote this in Romans,
“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.” Rom. 5:12
Then he said, “He died for all that those who live…” Who are those he referred to as those who live? They are those who have been saved and given this new life in Christ. And what is the evidence of this new life?
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.” 2 Cor. 5:17
Something miraculous happens to one who is in Christ. I cannot forget the first thing that I felt was to be forgiven of all my sins after I repented and received Christ into my heart. How did I know that? My conscience was cleared of guilt and then I felt a deep sense of God’s love. I had been reconciled with God. No longer separated but now a child of God.
Did you know that Paul had a passion before he became a Christian? He had a passion for his religion that of Judaism. Paul had a worldly point of view about people who were not of his religion and worse of all he had a wrong view of who Jesus Christ was. We can call him a fanatic for his religious belief because he had the followers of Christ put in prison and approved of Stephen’s stoning to death. Here’s his passion for his religious beliefs,
“If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eight day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless. But whatever was to my profit I now consider a loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.” Phil. 3:4b-9
All his wrong view of Christ was changed and put right by the Holy Spirit. His focus and passion was to preach the reason for what has become of him.
“When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.” 1 Cor. 2:1-5
What is this power Paul was referring to in his preaching? The gospel.
“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first of the Jew, then for the Gentiles. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” Rom. 1:16-17
This is what Paul was saying that his righteousness came from God. He was saved by the grace of God when Jesus spoke to him on the road to Damascus. He got blinded yet Jesus did not tell him the gospel. Jesus sent his disciple by the name of Ananias to tell him the good news. Jesus already did what He came to do. He preached the good news, lived it and then finished it by dying on the cross. God vindicated Him by raising Him from the dead, meaning God accepted His offering and he gives Him now the authority and power to save and give eternal life. He uses now His disciples to proclaim the gospel. Ananias was hesitant to go for fear of persecution by Saul whose name was later changed to Paul, and wanted to excuse himself.
“The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.” “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” Acts 9:11-16
What if you were in Ananias’ shoes will you go right away? Jesus had to order him twice. Notice the first time Jesus said go to the house… but after he was making excuses, Jesus gave him an emphatic command, “Go!” What if God brings to your path someone He wants you to tell about him, can you say, I have already a plan or perhaps this is a man who is devout in his religion and will be impossible to get save or I could get in trouble because he is my supervisor. Can you imagine if Ananias insisted and did not go, where will Paul be? But that is not possible because the Holy Spirit inside Ananias convicted him by the Word of Christ and gave him the faith to go.
Did Paul suffer according to what Jesus said? Yes and I believe Paul suffered just as much as the other apostles if not more. But it did not discourage him from pursuing his mission to proclaim the gospel to the Gentile nations. He was so thankful and grateful to what the Lord Jesus Christ did for him that he was willing to suffer whatever it takes to bring the good news to the nations. In all the sufferings he went through for the cause of the gospel he had this heart attitude and passion for Christ, his Lord.
“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. 12:10
So what is your passion? Last two Sundays we saw the focus of a soldier of Christ, an athlete running the race prepares himself and the farmer works hard to plow and sow and patiently wait for the harvest. Just like Paul, the only way we can be driven with the “Passion for Christ” is to know how much Christ loves us. Here’s Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians,
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of the fullness of God.” Eph. 3:17b-19
I believe we too can have the passion for Christ just as Paul had because this is what God desires for us to be. We can have the passion of Christ and for Christ by this truth when we believe and consider ourselves to have died.
“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
We are ambassadors of Christ given the authority to represent Him to tell the world with a message to all people that will save them from going to hell.
“As though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” 2 Cor. 5:20b
You may be here today and know you are not yet saved and the Holy Spirit is convicting you of your need to repent of your sins and to surrender your life to Christ as your Lord and Savior. Be reconciled to God.” Consider this truth and make this speak to you personally,
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us (you), so that in him we (you)might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Cor. 5:21
And this is the gospel that will save you when you believe and receive Gods provision for your sins,
“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