Lessons from a Dinner Party: The Sacrificial Life

TEXT: Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; John 12:1-8

Introduction

In our first message, we joined Mary and Martha at a dinner party in Bethany. In that lesson, we learned the priority of worship and communion with Christ. Now we attend another dinner party in Bethany, this time at Simon the Leper’s home. The narrative includes the following characters: Jesus, Martha, Mary, Lazarus, Simon the Leper, and the disciples.

Join me as I preach the second in our two-part series today entitled: Lessons from a Dinner Party #2: The Sacrificial Life.

Context

Most commentators believe that there exists about a 2-month gap between the end of John 11 and the start of John 12. I mention this because in John 11 Lazarus is raised from the dead, and in John 12, he is still alive and reclining at dinner with the Lord Jesus.

The apostle John tells us that this passage is only six days before Christ’s arrest and subsequent death (John 12:1).

It is the sabbath and Jesus is invited to celebrate it with His friends in Bethany before His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the next day.

It is precious to observe that Martha is here serving. She had not got bitter and twisted by the Lord’s former comments which we read earlier. I know many Christians who would have simply thrown in the towel, but Martha is back doing what she loves, and it appears that she had learned the lesson Christ had taught her. Furthermore, we see that she is serving in a different household now. Not only had she responded well to the Lord’s loving rebuke, her ministry had increased to serving, cooking, and helping in other people’s homes!

Mary’s Sacrificial Gift was Extravagant

“Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair (John 12:3).

“A woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table” (Matthew 26:7).

“A woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head” (Matthew 14:3).

“Spikenard” or “pure nard” was a perfume derived from the very small and tender root of the Nard Plant found in India. The fact that it was pure meant it was genuine and unadulterated, which is what made it so costly.

Most commentators believe that this ointment was Mary’s dowry or inheritance. It was worth somewhere in the vicinity of a man’s annual wage.

It is important for us to note that the pure nard was housed in an alabaster flask (not mentioned in this account). This too, was of significant value. This long-necked bottle was made from a special variety of marble, a material which proved to be the best container for preserving expensive perfumes and oils. Once broken, it could not be re-sealed.

Mary had no intention of a partial sacrifice – it was everything!

Not only did Mary anoint the Lord Jesus with this precious substance, but she also broke the seal to this expensive container.

The Bible tells us that Mary poured the perfume over the head of Jesus (Mark 14:3; Matthew 26:7). Jesus explains that this anointing pointed to His death and the embalmment of His body. 

In just a few days, the Lord Himself would be broken like the alabaster flask and be poured out for the sins of His people. 

The Apostle John records for us a unique aspect to this account. We are told that Mary also “anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair” (John 12:3).

Another important principle is seen in this act. Paul tells us that the “glory of a woman is her long hair” (1 Corinthians 11:15), and Mary laid her glory at the feet of Jesus.

Application:

True worship comes at a great cost. Too many Christians today are unwilling to present themselves as a living sacrifice.

Consider the sacrifice Christ made for us. Consider what it cost.

Mary’s Sacrificial Gift was Fragrant

“The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume” (John 12:3).

Mary’s gift filled the house with a beautiful aroma. Its fragrance permeated everything. Beginning with Jesus, transferred to Mary, and then to those who observed this scene of worship.

Does this not present a glorious analogy? When Christ is worshiped, the worshipers themselves carry away something of the fragrance of that moment. No house is so filled with pleasant aroma as the house where Jesus is given His rightful place.

The fragrance of Christ is conferred to all who worship Him in spirit and in truth.

Application:

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. Walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2)

“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:14-15).

God was well-pleased with the sacrifice of His Son, it was a fragrant offering. God was well-pleased with Noah’s sacrifice, it was a “soothing aroma” (Genesis 8:20).

Is God well-pleased with your life of sacrifice? Does it spread the knowledge of Him everywhere?

Mary’s Sacrificial Gift was an Irritant

In all three accounts (Matthew, Mark & John), we find that Mary’s sacrificial gift was an irritant. It upset people.

Matthew tells us that the disciples were indignant (Matthew 26:8); Mark tells us that some believed the ointment had been wasted and scolded Mary (Mark 14:4,5); John points out that Judas Iscariot was upset because an opportunity had been lost to sell the perfume for personal gain (John 12:4-6).

The lesson here is that sacrificial worship irritates and infuriates those who are disinterested in living the worshipful life. They will see sacrifice as a waste and justify their foolishness by appealing to other ways the gift could be used.

Illustration:

I remember years ago I was in discussion with a worldly Christian who asked what I wanted to do when I grew up. I explained that God had called me to the ministry and that I was eager to serve Him. The older man was disappointed. He had just attended an event where I had sung. He said to me, “there is so much more to life, don’t waste your gift on the church, you could be famous.”

Worldly Christians despise sacrifice. They loathe the thought of laying our all at His feet. They see no value to surrender and have never experienced the deeper life in Christ.

At this juncture, it is important to remember that though our sacrifice be an irritant to many, Christ commends it!

“Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me” (Matthew 26:10).

The world may despise you; some believers may mock and ridicule you; Christ commends you because true worship and sacrifice is a beautiful thing.

This is never more clearly seen than in the sacrifice of Christ. It was an irritant to all who hated Him, but for us who believe, it is the most beautiful thing in all the world!

Mary’s Sacrificial Gift was Permanent

Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her” (Matthew 26:13).

“And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her” (Mark 14:9).

Mary’s act was immortalised. This was not Mary’s intention, nor had she set out to make a name for herself. However, this sacrificial act, which was conducted in humility, love, and worship, had everlasting consequences.

Is there not a clear application here? Do not our genuine acts of worship and sacrifice transcend time and space? Are they not the gold, silver, and precious stones that endure?

Application:

This morning we dealt with the importance of worship, and now we have considered the importance of sacrifice. On this 21st anniversary of Mt. Cathedral Community Baptist Church, it has been my intention to remind us of what matters most – worship and sacrifice. From these comes our service, but never apart from them.

May God help us to be ever found worshipping and offering ourselves as living sacrifices in His service. I close this special day with a poem by Charles Thomas Studd, the British cricketer and missionary to China.

Only One Life – By C.T. Studd

Two little lines I heard one day,

Traveling along life’s busy way;

Bringing conviction to my heart,

And from my mind would not depart;

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

 

Only one life, yes only one,

Soon will its fleeting hours be done;

Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet,

And stand before His Judgement seat;

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

 

Only one life, the still small voice,

Gently pleads for a better choice

Bidding me selfish aims to leave,

And to God’s holy will to cleave;

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

 

Only one life, a few brief years,

Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears;

Each with its clays I must fulfil,

living for self or in His will;

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

 

When this bright world would tempt me sore,

When Satan would a victory score;

When self would seek to have its way,

Then help me Lord with joy to say;

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

 

Give me Father, a purpose deep,

In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;

Faithful and true what e’er the strife,

Pleasing Thee in my daily life;

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

 

Oh let my love with fervour burn,

And from the world now let me turn;

Living for Thee, and Thee alone,

Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

 

Only one life, yes only one,

Now let me say, “Thy will be done”;

And when at last I’ll hear the call,

I know I’ll say “twas worth it all”;

Only one life,’twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

 



The Ministry of Reconciliation

TEXT: 2 Corinthians 5:10-20 |  VIDEO LINK

Those not acquainted with biblical theology suppose that there is a contradiction between God’s sovereign election of sinners to salvation, and the essential ministry of evangelism.

As you know, I am absolutely convinced that God in His infinite wisdom ordained/chose/elected some of His image-bearers to salvation. This is not unfair or unjust because “God is in the heavens; [and] he does all that he pleases” (Psalm 115:3).

Because this doctrine is incredibly humbling, it is repudiated by those that are proud and do not want to relinquish control of their so-called “free will.”

On the flip side, believing that God is sovereign, and that all who He has chosen will eventually enter into His fold, must not be permitted to bring about laziness, disobedience and carelessness.

As with all doctrines, when the pendulum swings too far in any direction, there will always be a misinterpretation of God’s revealed truth.

When it comes to evangelism, there are basically three schools of thought:
 
1. ARMINIANISM (Extreme #1)
It is my responsibility to save souls. This leads to guilt, creative methods, emotional invitations etc.
 
2. HYPER-CALVINISM (Extreme #2)

God will rescue His elect with or without me. This leads to laziness, disobedience, and carelessness

3. EVANGELISTIC PARTNERSHIP WITH GOD (Biblical Balance)The believer sounds the outward call and God issues the inward call (2 Corinthians 5:20; 6:1) 
 

I believe that the Bible clearly teaches that it is God who regenerates the sinner, but that He has entrusted to us the message that has the power to bring about the new birth. In this sense, we are in a very real partnership with God which began the moment that we first trusted in Him.

We are never held responsible for the sinner’s decision, but we are commanded to preach the gospel. We are not to lose sleep over our failures in eloquence or articulation of the message, but we should be concerned with being faithful to this ministry of reconciliation.

We have talked a lot about different church ministries that are being launched today as part of our Vision Sunday. However, it is important to know that there is a ministry that EVERY believer is appointed to the moment they are saved – it is the Ministry of Reconciliation.

This is to be our primary occupation. We are to pursue souls; chase after the lost; use our resources, gifts, and time in this precious endeavour; We are to be faithful, fervent, and frequent in our evangelistic efforts.

Our Theme for 2020 is “The Ministry of Reconciliation” and being “Ambassadors for Christ”, and these are the subjects I wish to broach today. Join me as I preach a message entitled: The Ministry of Reconciliation. Read more…



A Biblical Worldview in Disturbing Times

TEXT: Colossians 2:1-8

Introduction

As a Christian, how are we to interpret and respond to devastating circumstances that take place in our community, in our nation, and on the world stage?

Illustration #1: On Friday, a man in the prime of his life, was travelling along Goulburn Valley Hwy, Thornton with a colleague from work, when their ute collided with another motor vehicle and claimed his life. He was a father, husband, and well-known member of our community. How do we interpret and respond to that situation?

Illustration #2: At the time of writing these words, at least 20 people have died in the current bushfires with at least another 28 missing. In our state alone, there are more than 50 uncontrolled fires raging. The state of disaster has been declared for the first time, the army has been deployed, helicopters have been leased from other countries, and panic is widespread. How do we interpret and respond to this situation?

Illustration #3: America’s decision to kill Iran’s notorious General Suleimani this week could spark a war. Most analysts are saying that Iran will retaliate, and to what extent, nobody knows. Iran has extensive medium-range missiles, and past experiences suggest that they are not beyond killing civilians and ignoring the Geneva Convention. How should we interpret and respond to this situation? Read more…



Enduring Fruit

The parable of parables;

Made known to His disciples.

A secret truth most notable;

A message that’s unfashionable.

With ears to hear, let us hear;

We can’t afford to be cavalier.

 

A farmer sows his precious seed;

He casts it forth – a righteous deed.

His task complete, he played his part;

The gospel now has reached the heart.

Time will tell the real convert;

No turning back, He’ll not revert.

 

Some seed has fallen on the street;

Trampled by the busy feet.

The Devil’s birds do confiscate

The seed before it germinates.

Truth is snatched and seized today;

On wings of doubt it flies away.

 

Some seed is in the rocky ground;

It has no root, nor moisture found.

It grows with joy, but withers fast;

When trials come it cannot last.

Beneath the surface lies a flaw

This stillborn child is made of straw.

 

Some seed was sown amongst the thorns;

Fruitless and barren, a life forlorn.

The barbs emerge and suffocate;

Cares and riches strangulate.

A promising start but soon deceived;

Gospel truth not really believed.

 

Some seed was sown in fertile soil;

This heart believed without recoil.

The saving proof: enduring fruit;

Rooted in the Penal Substitute.

A thriving harvest, plain to see

Spreads throughout eternity.

 

~ Written by Daniel Kriss, November 13, 2019

Having read this parable in Mark 4:1-20 and pondering the many who have made professions of faith over the years but have since “fallen away”.



Gospel Living

Philippians one, twenty-seven;

Saints are citizens of heaven.

Not their own, but purchased be;

Among the world, a testimony.

 

Predestined to the image of Christ;

The reason He was sacrificed.

Our purpose clear, His grand design;

To His will, we must align.

 

Every motive, goal, and plan;

Every thought from inner man;

Every deed and conversation;

A witness to a great salvation.

 

Gospel living is not hard,

When holding Christ in high regard.

When with His Spirit we are filled,

The sin we love is daily killed.

 

So, live the life that can’t compare:

With Christ, His Word, and constant prayer;

Selfless love, true thanksgiving;

Brethren, this is gospel living.

 

~ By Daniel Kriss

September 2, 2019

(After preaching on Gospel Living from Philippians 1:27a)



The Christian Mother

A woman of virtue is hard to find;

With tender heart and Christ-like mind.

Bearing her burdens with delight;

Leading her children to the light.

 

Her life is marked by prayer and song;

Before her God she walks along.

Her praise is heard throughout the day;

And love for Christ is on display.

 

Her lamp does not go out by night;

Motherhood’s call, ever in sight.

She does not fear the weather’s frost;

Provides for all despite the cost.

 

The rod of reproof is in her hands;

Its long-term value she understands.

She disciplines with truth and love,

As ordered by the Lord above.

 

Whilst others fancy wealth and fame;

The Word of God she does proclaim.

Pursuing love and teaching truth;

In vigilance protects her youth.

 

With calloused hands and wearied feet

She comes before the mercy seat.

Her strength renewed from time in prayer;

Upon the Lord, lays every care.

 

The field she bought now bears its fruit;

Providing for the destitute.

Her linen garments fetch a price;

Tireless work- her sacrifice.

 

The elders know her husband well;

He leads his family to Bethel.

She does him good and never harm;

Reveres without deceitful charm

 

Many in excellence have stood;

With beauty, charm, in womanhood.

And yet unrivalled stands another:

The God-fearing Christian mother.



Grace Giving: The Greatest Gift (at Christmas)

TEXT: Ephesians 4:29-32

For many of us Christmas is not the season of cheer and merriment, it is a time marked by fear, loneliness, disagreements and conflict.

Although the notion of goodwill toward men is noble, it is often quite the opposite. We are faced with family members who hate all things religious, co-workers who mock the gospel, celebrities singing songs that they have no understanding of, finances are often strained, everything is so much busier, and the whole ordeal can appear to be more trouble than it is worth.

Emotions are high; Feelings are easily hurt; relationships are severed; songs of truth are butchered; expectations reach a new level; culture calls us to enjoy what is often a financially, relationally, physically, and mentally depleting time!

How do we as Christians approach this period of time? The same way we approach every other time – with Christlikeness and grace.

This morning I would like to preach a message entitled: “Grace-Giving: The Greatest Gift you can Give This Christmas”.

1.    Guard your Mouth: Ephesians 4:29

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths…”

Observations:

  • Imperative.
  • It is possible for Christians to operate with corrupt speech.
  • Our mouths (tongues) are dangerous.
  • The Bible has zero tolerance for corrupting talk: “no corruption”

Definitions:

“Corrupting” – rotten or putrid. Bringing impurity and pollution.

In short, this refers to speech which injures virtue, produces vice, scoffs at truth, is reproachful or harming of another, unseasoned by gospel salt, unsavoury, and includes but is not limited to: foolish talking and jesting, filthy speech, dirty talk, unchaste words, angry communication, proud and haughty boasts, arrogant expressions, lies, perjury, blasphemy, obscene vulgarity, slander, profane oaths and curses, and any dialogue which discredits, maligns, or inadequately represents the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Cf. James 3:1-12

2. Good & Gracious Speech: Ephesians 4:29

“…but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

Observations:

  • The word “but” provides us with a contrast.
  • The word “only” speaks of exclusivity.

“Good” – Morally upright, virtuous, agreeable with all things holy, of the character of God.

“Building Up” – from an architectural term referring to promoting sound structure. This concept is sometimes referred to as edification.

The speech of the believer is to encourage, instruct, and uplift.

“As fits the occasion” – These words do not appear in the KJV text, but they are very important. This is the concept of modesty. To speak the right things at the right time.

God is not just calling us to “say good things”, but to say good things at the appropriate time.

Solomon said, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver” (Proverbs 25:11).

In other words, modest speech is like luscious, well-picked fruit presented to you on an ornate basket or vessel of silver. Both the fruit and the vessel are presentable and fitting for the occasion.

“that it may give grace to those who hear.” – To “give” or “administer” grace to those who hear is to impose divine influence on them.

Gracious speech is godly speech. It does not mean that every conversation has God as the subject of it, but rather that every conversation springs from a heart that has God at the centre of it.

As God’s people, we are instruments of His grace. The primary way that this will be realised is through our speech.

One of the greatest gifts you can give to those around you this Christmas is good, edifying, modest, and gracious speech.

3. Grieving the Holy Spirit of God: Ephesians 4:30

“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

Observations:

  • Imperative.
  • The Holy Spirit of God is referred to as a person, “whom”
  • The Holy Spirit was responsible for “sealing”.

“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God” To afflict with sorrow, to hurt.

In the context, this grieving is a direct result of polluting words, but also covers all aspects of sin in the life of a believer.

The Holy Spirit is grieved by our spiritual inconsistencies. In other words, as redeemed people with a new heart, He is hurt by our fleshly responses, words and deeds which are not in accord with our redemption.

“By whom you were sealed for the day of redemption”

A seal speaks of ownership and security. He is the seal that guarantees our preservation until Christ returns for us and our salvation is complete. Interestingly enough, Paul here uses the eternal security of the believer as one of the strongest reasons why we should not sin.

The seal cannot be broken by sin, but the relationship is strained.

It grieves the Spirit of God to see the believer’s progress interrupted by sin.

4. Putting Away Evil: Ephesians 4:31

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”

Paul now lists six specific sins which need to be removed from the lives of believers. Each of these grieve the Spirit of God and are at odds with our new life in Christ.

  • Bitterness: The picture of one cutting open a lemon and licking its centre. It is a coldness fused with poison. It is the opposite of sweetness and kindness.

Bitterness begins in the heart, spreads to the mind, and produces poisonous speech. The writer of Hebrews warns against the “root of bitterness” and its effects (Hebrews 12:15)

  • Wrath: Although wrath and anger are similar, the word used here speaks of the commencement of anger’s passion. That initial frustration, annoyance which sparks the fully-fledged anger spoken of next.
  • Anger: This is the passion carried to its highest pitch. This leads to violence, rage, indignation, the desire to exact vengeance, and reaches its climax at murder.

Cf. James 4:1-3

  • Clamour: This word is used on only three occasions in the Bible. It carries the idea of: loud outcries of anger, noise, shouting down opponents, violent assertions of perceived rights and wrongs, railing boisterous talk.

All of these outbursts are highly unbecoming the meek, loving, quiet, sedate mind of Christ and his followers.

  • Slander: Sometimes translated “evil speaking”. This is speech which blasphemes the name of another. It is said with the purpose of bringing disrepute to the character of another. It is tale-bearing, backbiting, mockery, ridicule, defamation, character assassination.

John MacArthur: “Bitterness reflects a smouldering resentment.”

  • Malice: This is a basic and general term for all forms of evil. It is the root of all vices.

Some have suggested this list is a progression: beginning with bitterness within, which breeds internal anger and rage, which then produces violent and hurtful outbursts, which then gives birth to slanderous words intended to hurt deeply those who we oppose, and then finally culminating in all manner of evil.

What started as an internal root of bitterness within the heart of the believer (seemingly harmless) finds its final destination in all manner of sin, both internal and external.

5.    Grace-Giving Defined: Ephesians 4:32

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

What does grace look like practically? Here it is.

“Be kind to one another” – be polite, courteous, not rough, abrasive or sour. Be useful, helpful, actively easing the burden of others.

John Gill: “looking pleasantly on each other, speaking kindly to one another, and mutually doing every good office that lies in their way, and in their power.”

“Tenderhearted” – Compassionate, merciful, full of pity.

Cf. Mark 6:34 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.

Cf. Matthew 14:14 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

Cf. 1 John 3:17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?

“Forgiving one another” – To pardon, rescue, graciously restore one who has offended or violated us, to exercise kindness in the place of vengeance.

It is the highest Christian virtue to forgive, and it is the essence of the gospel. An unwillingness to forgive is the proof that God’s gospel is not fully understood.

Cf. Colossians 3:13 Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Cf. Luke 23:24 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

“As God in Christ forgave you.”

Here lies the heart of gospel truth.

You have been forgiven; therefore, you must forgive.

READ: Matthew 18:21-35

Conclusion:

For many of us Christmas means opportunities to catch up with unsaved relatives. Let me encourage you to be a grace-giver this Christmas, and look for opportunities to build up, to demonstrate Christ in word and deed, and when things are difficult, operate with compassion, and always be forgiving remembering that Christ forgave you.



What Are You Known For?

Text: Philippians 4:5

Introduction

Today we come to a little command wedged between two very familiar portions. In Philippians 4:5 we read, “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.” This little group of words carries a world of truth which is often overlooked because of its surrounding context.

This morning I would like to take the time to unpack this command and bring home some relevant application to our daily Christian lives.

Join me as I preach a message entitled: What are you known for?x

More to Scripture than Meets the Eye

The Cambridge Bible for Students has the following written in the margin about the word “reasonableness”: The word is full of interest and significance, and is very difficult of translation.

A world of truth is contained in the word “reasonableness” and due diligence must be given to this important command.

The fact that there is more to this verse than can be appreciated from a cursory read is in itself a challenge to dig more deeply into the Scriptures. To gain insight and rich blessing, the Christian cannot afford to simply read the Bible, he must be willing delve deeper through study and research.

There are worlds of truth available to the “Christian Miner” and such is the case with this verse.

New Testament Usage

The English word “reasonableness” is translated from the Greek word epieikēs (Epi-A-Case).

This Greek word appears on five occasions:

  • Philippians 4:5 “reasonableness” ESV
  • Titus 3:1-2 “to be gentle” ESV
  • James 3:17 “gentle” ESV
  • 1 Peter 2:18 “gentle” ESV
  • 1 Timothy 3:3 “gentle” ESV

By comparing its usage and the words chosen by the translators, we gain some insight into the meaning although in this case we are only given two different terms.

Translation Variances

Another great way of determining the meaning of a Greek word (without language skills) is to compare different translations – E.G. KJV, ESV, NASB, Living Translation, etc.

In comparing 33 different English Bibles, I found that this word his translated 8 different ways:

  1. Leniency,
  2. Forbearance,
  3. Gentle behaviour,
  4. Modesty,
  5. Reasonableness,
  6. Considerate,
  7. Gracious attitude,
  8. Humility.

     

This should give us some indication of the scope of meaning and its significance.

Lexical Meaning (definition)

My next task is to understand its lexical significance. In other words, I find out what this word means in a Greek lexicon (dictionary). This will help me to appreciate the term in its biblical, cultural, historical, and contemporary usage.

Despite there being a consistency in the ESV (four out of the five texts say “gentleness”), a Greek dictionary provides a much wider definition.

The word used for “reasonableness” in our text carries these fuller meanings:

  • to be appropriate,
  • mild,
  • gentle,
  • moderate,
  • patient,
  • fair,
  • equitable,
  • modest,
  • yielding,
  • lenient,
  • unassertive,
  • gracious in attitude,
  • humble, considerate,
  • without excess in passions,
  • restraining of tempers,
  • not exacting vengeance,
  • unbiased,
  • operating with contentment.

Perhaps now you see the enormity of this little word and its far-reaching applications.

To help us understand what is meant here, I have organised the wide scope of meaning into five simple categories which will be the outline of this message.

Just before we enter these five sub-categories, let me make a comment on the second part of this phrase – “be known to everyone”.

The idea here is not that you make an ostentatious display of this spiritual characteristic, but rather that others would see and know the reality of your “reasonableness”, and be inclined to worship God.

Now let’s consider these 5 distinct shades of meaning.

Gentleness under provocation

“Let your gentleness under provocation be known to everyone” (Philippians 4:5)

In this first instance, the meaning refers to our responses when under attack. This has many applications.

Similar to “meekness” which can be defined as “power under control”, here we see a “waving of our rights” whilst maintaining a kindly response.

One commentator wrote, “Yielding with respect to personal feeling and interest, though firm as a rock in respect of moral principle.”

It is to respond kindly when provoked, baited, or when someone tries to “push our buttons”.

It is in its essence the ability to obey the command of Christ in Luke 6:27-30:

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back.”

Paul wrote in Romans 12:17-21:

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Application:

  1. Dealing kindly with that sibling or family member who riles you up.
  2. Gracious behaviour towards those who would mistreat you – “friends”, customers, work colleagues, etc.
  3. Not exacting your legal claims against one who has caused you pain.
  4. Responding lovingly to those whose arguments or issues with you are unreasonable.
  5. Responding gently to those who would manipulate you.
  6. Surrendering what you have the right to demand for the good of the other party.


Readiness to Forgive

“Let your readiness to forgive be known to everyone.” Philippians 4:5

This simply refers to a predisposition of forgiveness.

Forgiveness is not something you can simply “put on” at the time of conflict, it is practiced long before the friction arrives.

True forgiveness (no strings attached) is possible only through the Holy Spirit and is maintained by walking closely with the Lord.

Ever noticed how easy it is to hold a grudge when we are out of step with the Spirit?

If you would be ready to forgive those who injure you, it is essential that you live in close proximity to the ultimate forgiver.

Perhaps the most helpful verse on forgiving others is Ephesians 4:32 which says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

In this verse we are commanded to forgive, and given the motive for forgiveness.

Application:

  1. No grudges.
  2. No withholding good from those who have injured us.
  3. No rejoicing in the downfall of others.
  4. No recounting sins of the past.
  5. No forcing people to “earn our favour” or forgiveness.
 

Sweetness of disposition

“Let your sweetness of disposition be known to everyone.” Philippians 4:5

This nuance speaks to a gracious attitude, unassertive interactions, a genuine kindness, and a gentleness to all.

This is evidenced in our kindly countenance, cheerful and encouraging speech, welcoming mannerisms and body language, careful and gracious responses.

There are some people in this life who have the incredible ability to disarm explosive situations. Their responses, behaviour, and submissive attitude render their enemies powerless.

This immediately brings 1 Peter 3:1-4 to my mind:

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

Now the danger is to make this truth exclusive to the women and wives in the room, but this is not to be the case.

Men, we are to have a sweetness of disposition too. This is not what the world teaches, but it is what the Scripture teaches. We need to be active in affection.

Application:

  1. Smile and laugh often. Practice this!
  2. Operate with gentleness, tenderness, graciousness.
  3. Watch carefully how we interact, what we are saying with out bodies (body language), the tone and manner of our speech.
  4. You don’t have to be noticed in the room. Anonymity in this regard is good.
  5. Don’t hide your personality, but guard yourself from anything that would rob you of a sweetness in disposition.

     

Governance over Passions

“Let your governance over your passions be known to everyone.” Philippians 4:5

The King James translation says, “Let your moderation be known unto all men.”

This particular shade of meaning speaks of a soberness of living, freedom from excesses, self- control, and a general balance throughout life.

The Bible has quite a bit to say about this category:

Proverbs 25:28 A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.

1 Corinthians 9:27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Titus 2:12 Training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,

1 Corinthians 6:12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything.

Proverbs 25:27 It is not good to eat much honey, nor is it glorious to seek one’s own glory.

God has created us with emotions, passions, and desires. These attributes are not evil, but they must be carefully watched because our tendency is towards sin and fulfilling the lusts of the flesh and eyes.

Even good practices can become sinful when they are out of balance. Reading your Bible is a wonderful practice, but reading it all day instead of working or helping your family is sin.

Application:

  1. Over-eating and gluttony.
  2. All form of addiction – coffees, computer games, fitness program, etc.
  3. An over-emphasis on what you wear or on how you look.
  4. Drunkenness.
  5. Use of money – over-spending, bad stewardship.


Modesty & Appropriateness

“Let your modesty and appropriateness be known to everyone.” Philippians 4:5

Modesty is often defined in terms of clothing or humility. Someone will say “she is dressed modestly” or “He is modest about his skills in tennis”. However, modesty in the biblical sense is much more than this.

I recommend reading an article by Meggie Cotonethal (guest contributor on Desiring God) called “Modesty Misunderstood: What Men and Women Need to Know”.

Let me quote some snippets.

Modesty must be one of the most abused words in the Christianese Dialect. The idea of modesty has been almost exclusively attached to women’s dress, narrowing in definition to mean “showing less skin and trying to prevent sexual arousal in those looking on.” It has veritably become a subculture in Christendom, spawning a cacophony of bestsellers, brands, seminars, and internet firestorms.”

Modesty is the offspring of humility. Humility is evaluating ourselves properly, with sober judgment (Romans 12:3). Modesty is behavior that flows out of remembering our true place of service, and does not conceitedly boast about the self, but boasts in God (Philippians 2:3–4; 2 Corinthians 10:17). Modesty, or the lack thereof, reveals where we’ve placed our identity. Rich women in the ancient world arrogantly declared their high status, their value, their identity with expensive finery.

We live in an identity-addicted society. We strive to put our tastes and acquisitions on display so that everyone knows who we are. We’re told to accentuate our best features, get what we want out of life, stand up for and express ourselves. Social media is often the megaphone we use to herald our personal identity and covertly brag about our smarts, body, sexuality, culture, politics, sports, relationships, family, insecurities, experiences, and possessions.

Real Christians love to fade into the background, serving the needs of others, asking Jesus to take center stage. We’ve been freed to have a truly modest, nondescript life and countenance, which will make the world wonder why we’re not fighting for our social status and incidental preferences. Perhaps we can be so liberated from human approval and praise that they begin to inquire, “Who are you?”

And we can respond, “I am not my own, for I was bought with a price. I belong to God” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20; Romans 14:8).

Modesty is not primarily about clothes, it is in essence, to put on Christ (Romans 13:14).

The question we need to ask ourselves is, am I seeking the attention of others or am I concerned that others would see Christ. Is what I am wearing appropriate to the occasion?

Immodesty is selfishness.

Example:

It would be sin to turn up to a western wedding in a pair of shorts and a tank-top. It is inappropriate and does not honour the occasion, the guests, the invitation. It makes you the focus point.

We are to fade into the background so that Christ might be seen.

Application:

  1. Does your wardrobe reflect a meek and quiet spirit?
  2. Does your jewellery box express humility?
  3. Are you seeking social status and centre stage by what you wear, possess, display?
  4. Am I more concerned with the accolades of men?
  5. Did I buy that car/home to be noticed by others?


The Victorious Christian Life

2 Chronicles 20:1-23

Introduction

The Christian life is not a playground, it is a battleground. Sometimes we forget this fact- perhaps because we are so accustomed to this life, or because we are so distracted from spiritual things- we lay down our arms, surrender our position, and forsake our posts.

Because the enemy is largely invisible, we forget how fierce the battle is raging, and how essential it is that we are ready for war each day!

The Bible tells us that there are three enemies that we face: (1) The world; (2) The flesh; and (3) The Devil. I call these these the External Enemy, the Internal Enemy, and the Infernal Enemy.

Every single day of our lives we feel the direct impact or influence of these three enemies. However, many of us no longer “struggle” in the fight because these enemies have infiltrated and taken out our defences. Even though we know that ultimate victory is ours, we have become prisoners of war, and are shackled to the cleverly devised strategies of these enemies.

The Bible tells us that ultimate victory is ours in Christ but that does not mean that we can just cruise. We are to fight moment by moment. The Lord would have us live victorious Christian lives every day, but that is so hard. It requires much time, effort, energy, and focus.

This message comes to us today because I am concerned for us. I am concerned that there are some who have raised a white flag, packed up their spiritual arsenal, and are venturing into enemy territory without protection. I am concerned that there are those who are running away from the fight because it is too hard. I am concerned because there are some who have been wounded by the deceitful darts of the evil one and are believing his lies. I am concerned that there are few left on our battleground who are truly wrestling with the enemy, and are being left without support and backup.

As we venture into the life of Jehoshaphat and the kingdom of Judah let us learn together how we can live The Victorious Christian Life.

Context

King Jehoshaphat was a man who loved God and sought to abolish the idolatry that so often became a problem in the life of God’s people.

The Bible tells us that “his heart was courageous in the ways of the Lord” (2 Chronicles.17:6).

Furthermore, Jehoshaphat was so concerned with his people knowing the truth of Scripture that he sent out “Bible teachers” throughout the land who expounded the law of God to them (2 Chronicles17:7-9).

It is very clear from 2 Chronicles 19 that Jehoshaphat was a man who knew God, and established his kingdom on His truth and righteousness.

1. The Reality of the Battle

“A great multitude is coming against you….” (2 Chronicles 20:1-2)

God had been blessing the people of Judah because Jehoshaphat loved the Lord and established his kingdom in righteousness and truth.

A great army approaches the city of Judah with the intention of dethroning King Jehoshaphat and destroying the people of God.

Dear friends, we too are in a battle. God’s people today are still being attacked by many adversaries. Our enemy is invisible but the effects of his efforts are clearly manifested. God’s people are fighting for truth in a world that not only believes a lie, but propagates it. God’s people are attacked constantly by the world, the flesh and the devil.

Do NOT THINK that a church or family which is established on God’s truth and righteousness is somehow inoculated against warfare! Nothing could be further from the truth.

We are not fighting visible enemies.

We fight against:

  1. Sin in all its forms (Romans 6:12-13)
  2. Our Self – the mind, desires of the flesh, natural tendencies, temptation (Romans 7:15-25)
  3. The Devil and his kingdom (1 Peter 5:8)
  4. False teaching (Colossians 2:6-8)

We fight for:

  1. Word of God and the truth of God (Jude 3)
  2. The Gospel (1 Timothy 1:11)

Scripture is filled with analogies of battle for the Christian:

1Timothy 1:18  This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare,

2 Corinthians 10:3-4  For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.

Ephesians 6:10-12  Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

1 Timothy 6:12  Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

1 Peter 5:8  Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

2. The Correct Response to the Battle

King Jehoshaphat though rattled by the news of this oncoming army and their intentions responds in a way that pleased the Lord. Consider the following observations:

a) Set his face to seek the Lord

“Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord…” (2 Chronicles 20:3)

What would you do if you were confronted with an army who were passionately pursuing your life and the life of your people? Though the king’s initial response was fear, he very quickly was driven to his knees to seek the Lord.

More than anything today, God’s people MUST seek the Lord. They must be driven to their knees and beg God in His awesome power to fight for them.

The great need of this hour is for God’s people, the Church of Jesus Christ to seek Him and Him alone. We pursue so many other things but it is time to seek the Lord.

1 Chronicles 16:11  Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!

Psalm 14:2  The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God.

Hosea 10:12  Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.

Dear friends, the path to victory begins by pursuing the Lord.

Turn your attention away from all other forms of “help and hope”, and seek the Lord.

b) Proclaimed a fast throughout Judah

“And proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.” (2 Chronicles 20:3)

Fasting is something that most 21st century Christians have never considered.

The Bible is full of instances where God’s people in times of distress or in preparation for some great task fasted and prayed.

Fasting is not primarily about abstinence from food, but a period of specific concentration upon the Lord without the distraction of “earthly things”.

Fasting in times of great sorrow

2 Samuel 12:19-22  But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David understood that the child was dead. And David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” They said, “He is dead.” Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’

Nehemiah 1:4  As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.

Fasting in times of great spiritual warfare

Matthew 4:1-2  Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.

Fasting in the New Testament Church

Acts 13:2  While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

c) The Unity of God’s People in Prayer

“And Judah assembled to seek help from the Lord; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.” (2 Chronicles 20:3)

History shows us that when the people of God are in distress or under attack they will unite and gather together with one purpose: to seek the Lord collectively.

All the major revivals have come about on the back of prayer. God’s people recognised the prevailing sin of the nation and the need for true revival in the church. Men and woman began to gather and pray and fast and beg God to fight on their behalf. It was at these times that great awakenings were seen and God was most glorified.

If we are to see God work in our little church and communities it will come about through prayer. Prayer is something that should be the natural language of the Christian. Consider the power of prayer:

  1. Moses Prays and intercedes for his people and turns away the wrath of God (Exodus 32:9-14)
  2. Elijah calls down fire from heaven (1 Kings 18:36-38)
  3. Elijah prays for rain to come (1 Kings 18:42-43)
  4. Hezekiah’s victory over Sennacherib (Isaiah 38:21,36)
  5. Joshua prays and the sun stands still (Joshua 10:12-13)

James 5:16  Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

1John 5:14  And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

Acts 12:5-7  So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church. Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands.

3. The Right Understanding of God & Ourselves

2 Chronicles 20:6-12

As we begin to look at the contents of Jehoshaphat’s prayer we quickly realise that he had a wonderful understanding of the character of God and his own inability to fight this battle.

Consider the following observations:

a) The Sovereignty of God

“You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you.” (2 Chronicles 20:6)

God is in control. Though the armies rage against us and enemy seeks to destroy us, though we are tossed upon life’s billows roll, let us remember that it is God who holds the reins. True victory will be experienced when God’s people recognise and rejoice in His sovereignty over every part of life.

1 Chronicles 29:11 Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all.

Job 42:2  “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.

Psalm 115:3  Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.

  1. God is sovereign in creation.
  2. God is sovereign in salvation.
  3. God is sovereign in legislation.
  4. God is sovereign in administration.

b) The Powerful Acts of God in the Past

2 Chronicles 20:7-11

One of the sure ways to maintain the right perspective of God is to recount the blessings and the outpouring of his power in the past.

This is what Jehoshaphat did.

Consider what great things the Lord has already done for you.

Illustration:

I look back on my own life and I recount times when I was crushed and bruised and broken and ready to quit. People had falsely accused me, the battle was so fierce and I could do nothing to rescue myself from the feelings of despair. Along came God like a bird and swooped down and carried me into his bosom where peace, love, joy and security were found.

Victory will come when we remember who our God really is.

c) The Powerlessness of the Believer

“For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do.” (2 Chronicles 20:12)

Jehoshaphat was aware that he and his people did not stand a chance unless God intervened.

MCCBC will never have the victory until we recognise our own inability and cast ourselves upon the mercy of God. We will never see great things occur in our lives and in the lives of the lost until we learn to cast our lot on God.

So many today are trying to manufacture spiritual work in the life of others without turning to the Lord.

Friends, I am completely at the mercy of God this morning. No eloquence or elocutionary skills on my part will bring about change and revival. It must be God.

Zechariah 4:6  Then he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts.

d) The Importance of Fixing our Eyes on the Lord

“But our eyes are on you.” (2 Chronicles 20:12)

If we are to be victorious in our battle it will come about because our eyes are on the Lord.

Today it would seem that the Christian is looking everywhere else. He is looking to his own abilities, strength, wealth, prosperity and so.

If the Christian’s eyes are not on the Lord, how will we ever effect a lost generation with the gospel when we ourselves are not looking to the Saviour?

e) The Battle Belongs to the Lord

“Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s.” (2 Chronicles 20:15)

Victory will come for us when we realise that this battle that we are involved in every day is God’s. He fights for us and nothing can overcome Him. We are quickly defeated when we are not turning to Him for strength, help and enablement in the fray.

f) The Importance of Praising the Lord

“He appointed those who were to sing to the Lord and praise him in holy attire, as they went before the army, and say, “give thanks to the Lord for his steadfast love endures forever.”
(2 Chronicles 20:18-21)

How important it is for us to praise the Lord. In spite of the raging battle, in spite of the hardship of life, we must praise the Lord. The Lord delights in our praise.

4. Victory over the Enemy (vv.22-23)

“And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men…”
(2 Chronicles 20:22-23)

How did he do this? Who did he use to perform this ambush?

Questions we will not have an answer to until we get to glory.

The important thing is that it was God who fought this battle and he was victorious.

How will we be victorious in the battle?

  1. Recognise the reality of the battle.
  2. Have the correct response.
  3. Understand God and ourselves
  4. And then….victory will be ours!

Be Strong in the Lord

Be strong in the Lord, and be of good courage.

Your mighty defender is always the same.

Mount up with wings as the eagle ascending

Victory is yours when you call on His name.

Be strong, be strong, be strong in the Lord;

And be of good courage for He is your guide.

Be strong, be strong, be strong in the Lord;

And rejoice for the victory is yours.

So put on the armour the Lord has provided,

And place your defense in His unfailing care

Trust Him for He will be with you in battle,

Lighting your path to avoid every snare.



The Journey of Faith

Text: 2 Corinthians 5:1-10

Introduction

Another year has expired and the Lord has not returned yet!

God has been so good to us and I want to publicly offer thanks and praise to Him for provision of strength, wisdom, protection, a Bible-centered fellowship, this great building in which we meet, friends along the way, finances for our needs, food to eat, substance to drink, cars to drive, houses to live in, families to love, hobbies to enjoy, books to read, music to listen to, heating and cooling for comfort, access to technology, employment, agile minds, memories to cherish, brains to compute, trials to strengthen, temptations to overcome, enemies to conquer, divisions to reconcile, weakness to nurture grace, hurts to forgive, problems to solve, and promises to claim.

What a blessed life!

In reviewing 2018, I have been reminded of some special times and difficult times we have shared together as family this past year:

  • Reading though “A Holy Life” at the start of this year.
  • Several baptisms in March.
  • New physical birth
  • Passing of loved ones
  • Professions of faith
  • New leaders emerging
  • Gospel groups started
  • Church camp in October
  • New people attending the church
  • Intense times of corporate prayer
  • Bible reading days
  • Bible fellowship days
  • Personal and organised outreach events
  • intense counselling needs
  • Grievances and departure of some
  • Financial needs & provisions
  • Pleasant times of fellowship
  • Strained times of hurt
  • Departures from the faith
  • Growth and discipleship

This is church, this is family.

But what about 2019. What will it bring? How shall I approach the end of this year and the transition into the next? Shall I make a list of resolutions? Shall I just enter in without a thought? What about my apprehensions, uncertainties and anxieties?

In just over a month we will celebrate God’s goodness to this assembly for 20 years. As we approach this milestone, what shall our attitude be? How shall we continue for another 20 years (should the Lord tarry)? What is the spiritual recipe for success?

This morning I would like to preach from 2 Corinthians 5:1-10. I probably will not be able to cover all that I would like to. I have several points to make before I can focus on the specific theme for our consideration. Please be attentive and patient as we move briskly through this message.

Join me as I preach a message entitled: The Journey of Faith.

1. The Inevitable End of our Physical Bodies

“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” (2 Corinthians 5:1)

The apostle Paul is a passionate advocate of the gospel of Jesus Christ. His life is lived with the expectation that he will die at any moment – in fact, he is already “dying” according to 2 Corinthians 4:16 where he writes, “our outer self is wasting away…” (lit. “rotting” or “decaying”).

“The tent that is our earthly home” is a reference to the physical body. In this context, Paul is speaking to believers.

The “tent” or “tabernacle” is a wonderful illustration as it speaks of that which is movable, temporary, and relatively fragile.

Paul knew too well the nature of a tent seeing he made them for a living. No doubt he considered the brevity of life when he fashioned the canvass and fitted the rods.

There are a number of applications that must be understood in this first verse:

  1. A tent was a temporary habitation – Without permanency and longevity.
  2. A tent was easily dismantled – deconstructed, disassembled, and destroyed.
  3. A tent was fragile – The nature of the body is that it is born in weakness and fragility.
  4. A tent was used by pilgrims and travellers – All believers are sojourners.
  5. A tent is not the person, but simply a dwelling place – The soul is far more than the body alone.
  6. A tent requires maintenance and ultimately replacing – The body needs attention and will one day be replaced.

In this first point we are reminded of our own weakness and the brevity of life.

Sometimes we are tempted to think we will live forever and that this world is all that there is.

The apostle knew that his body was transient, and he lived for the eternal housing which God would supply him with in due course.

Before we move on, let me take a moment to remind EVERYONE – lost and saved – that life is short. Death is coming and a day of reckoning will ensue.

Some of us may not be here this time next year – our tent may have perished.

For the Christian we do not need to fear the future because the Lord Jesus Christ has already saved us from the wrath of the Righteous Judge.

However, if you are here and have not received Jesus as your Saviour you have much to fear. If you die without recourse you will stand before Jesus as your judge, jury and executioner. He will have no mercy upon your soul because you neglected the great salvation He provided by dying for your sin on the cross.

Friend, do not delay – come to Christ for rescue today!

2. The Promise of a New Eternal Building

“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” (2 Corinthians 5:1)

A great contrast exists in this text between the temporary tent (tabernacle) and the eternal home (house).

1 Corinthians 15:51-54 “Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

At a fixed time in the future, God will resurrect our mortal bodies and instantaneously transform them into a permanent, spiritual, eternal dwelling place.

A few observations about this new building:

  1. Originates from God “a building from God” I.E. without flaw, perfect.
  2. Not of this Creation “not made with hands” I.E. not human ingenuity, nor tainted by such. Without any human aid, wisdom or construction.
  3. Eternal, not temporal “eternal in the heavens” I.E. lit. “live forever”, unmarked by time, cannot be dissolved, replaced or upgraded.
  4. Heavenly “in the heavens” I.E. In the place that Jesus has been preparing for us since His ascension (John 14:1-3).

     

3. The Present Pain & the Glorious Future

“For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” (2 Corinthians 5:2-4)

The word “groan” speaks of pain, suffering and turmoil. Paul knew the fullness of what it meant to “groan” in his body.

Our bodies are subject to deterioration, soreness and disease.

It is not just our bodies that groan. Romans 8:22 tells us that the “whole of creations groans” under the weight of sin.

However, the burden of sin felt within our bodies must not steal the joy of the believer’s future prospect of a new heavenly dwelling place.

Sometimes in the midst of physical maladies, disease, cancer, sickness and pain, we lose sight of the glorious future which awaits us.

The Christian should earnestly desire to receive his or her new spiritual body. The word used here means to “crave, yearn for, and pursue.” This was a significant motive for Paul and it should be for us too.

One of the problems we have today is that many Christians are so settled in their temporary dwelling (this life and body) that they do not even consider, let alone desire, the future dwelling. So consumed are they with the here and now that they cannot even contemplate all that awaits.

Interesting Statement

The words, “if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked” have given rise to a great many different interpretations.

For the sake of time, let me explain what I believe is meant by this phrase.

Paul is speaking of our future state in which the soul will not be naked (disembodied), but rather, “further clothed” (v.4) with the immortal body.

In other words, “Paul is saying that his earnest desire is not for death, and for the disembodied state that goes with it, but rather for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ when all those who have died will receive their glorified bodies.” (Believer’s Bible).

Let us not forget that the bodies we have are just a shell. It is the soul which is indestructible, and this is the real “you”. One day the “body suit” will be loosed and the soul will for a time be “disembodied” until the return of Christ, and the resurrection of our bodies.

4. The Sovereign Purpose and the Present Deposit

“He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.” (2 Corinthians 5:5)

Now I must not get distracted from my mission to reach verse 7, but permit me a few moments to briefly unpack this verse!

Let me firstly remind you quickly of some essential theology:

  1. God chose believers for salvation (Ephesians 1:3-7)
  2. Salvation is wholly a work of God (Jonah 2:9)
  3. God initiated salvation and will bring it to conclusion (Philippians 1:6)
  4. Eternal life has already begun (John 5:24; John 11:26) It is NOT a future event!!
  5. Jesus will raise the believer up on the last day (John 6:40)
  6. God is sovereign and His plan will be accomplished (Job 42:2)

Please note:

  1. The word “prepared” is past tense and denotes a completed action. Has this taken place yet? Not from our vantage point. However, it is completed in the mind of God.
  2. The basis of the apostle’s confidence and assurance of his new spiritual body is the reality of the Holy Spirit’s presence within.
  3. The Holy Spirit “acts” as a deposit or downpayment. A guarantee. What God lay-bys He pays for in full!

1 Corinthians 1:20-22 For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

Romans 5:5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Ephesians 1:13-14 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

5. The Prevailing Attitude in the Present Tense

“So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:6).

What shall be the believer’s outlook based upon these truths? “Always of good courage”.

This phrase literally means: “Of good cheer, boldness, confidence, contented, hope-filled expectancy”.

The promise of our glorious future should elicit joy, peace, positivity, an upbeat attitude, and an eagerness for the Lord’s return.

Does your promised future result in present joy and confidence?

6. The Journey of Faith

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7)

We have finally reached the apex of the message!

The concept of faith is uncomplicated. Every one of us exercises faith hundreds of times each day.

In a simplistic sense, faith is “belief, reliance, a firmly-fixed confidence not based upon emotions, but as an act of the will.”

Paul reminds the believer that the Christian life is a journey of faith.

“We walk by faith….” Faith in what? Our goals, efforts, financial wherewithal? Absolutely not!

Our faith must be rooted/anchored in the unchanging, undiminishing character of God.

It is faith in His promises; Faith in His Scriptures; Faith in His plan.

EXAMPLES:

  • It is to operate like Abraham who, “obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8).
  • It is to live like Moses who, confronted with the Red Sea ahead and the Egyptians pursuing behind, trusted God and the “crossed the Red Sea as on dry land” (Hebrews 11:29).
  • It is to trust God when the great City of Jericho loomed in the distance and God said “encircle the place 13 times and blow the trumpet” and “the walls of Jericho fell down” (Hebrews 11:30).
  • It is to build an ark for the saving of your household at the behest of God even though rain had never yet been seen on the earth (Hebrews 11:7)
  • It is to leap into battle against an undefeated giant with a sling and five smooth stones and say, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” (1 Samuel 17:45).
  • It is to stand before the most powerful monarch in the world who demands that you worship his golden image, and say, “If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18)

THE PROBLEM

Too often we exercise faith in what we believe God should do rather than in God Himself. When we foolishly do this our expectations are not met and we become disillusioned with God!

We think, “God should have done this or that” or “I trusted Him and He let me down.”

GOD DIDN’T LET YOU DOWN – You were not believing the truth!

In 2019 you will have the opportunity to have your faith tested and tried. You will be confronted with unknown paths (like Abraham), insurmountable seas (like Moses), unconquerable enemies (like the fortress of Jericho), intangible realities (like Noah), unbeaten champions (like Goliath), and uncertain futures (like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego).

These will be your opportunities to exercise faith in God and His Word.

Our church will come under fire. We will experience opposition from without and division from within. There will be times of despair, disappointment, and disillusionment. We will be afflicted, persecuted, falsely accused, and ridiculed.

But our faith must be fixed in God.

How can I grow in my faith? A Short Synopsis

  1. Faith begins, and is sustained by the Word of God (Romans 10:17; 1 Peter 2:2)
  2. Decide to exercise faith in God as an act of your will (Mark 11:22; 1 Peter 1:21)
  3. Walk in the Spirit (Acts 11:24)
  4. Submit to spiritual leaders who encourage your faith (Acts 14:22; 16:5)
  5. Local church fellowship (Romans 1:12)
  6. Be alert and hold fast to the faith (1 Corinthians 16:13)
  7. Practice faith in the unseen truth revealed in Scripture (2 Corinthians 5:7)
  8. Examine your faith and test its genuineness (2 Corinthians 13:5)
  9. Withdraw from foolish talk and controversy which attacks the faith (1 Timothy 1:4)
  10. Live in moral and doctrinal purity so that faith may be established (1 Timothy 1:19; 3:9)
  11. Serve as a deacon (1 Timothy 3:13)
  12. Be trained in the words of faith (1 Timothy 4:6)
  13. Do not love money (1 Timothy 6:10)
  14. Mimic the faith of Jesus (2 Timothy 1:13)
  15. Follow Paul’s faith (2 Timothy 3:10)
  16. Receive rebuke from men of faith (Titus 1:13)
  17. Share your faith with the church and the world (Philemon 1:6)
  18. Imitate the faith of church leaders (Hebrews 13:7)
  19. Endure the testing of your faith (James 1:3)
  20. Pray in faith (James 1:6; 5:15)
  21. Resist the devil in faith (1 Peter 5:9)
  22. Contend for the faith (Jude 1:3)
  23. Build yourself up in the faith (Jude 1:20)
  24. Keep on believing by faith in Jesus (Revelation 14:12)
  25. Wait in faith for the return of Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13)

Time has escaped us.

Let me simply read you the last two points from our text:

7. The Preeminent Aim

“So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.” (2 Corinthians 5:9)

8. The Day of Reckoning

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)



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