2nd Corinthians 6:1-10
Corinthians Chapter six. Paul is going to bring to us a message that I find very challenging and thought provoking as we live in light of what it means to be a Christian in this world. How We Choose to Respond. Chapter six to Chapter eight is a message of generosity in Second Corinthians. And it’s not just talking about financial generosity. It’s it’s living with a generous spirit in this world, how you choose to respond in light of the gospel. And if you remember last week, God gave us all a title we dubbed you with a title. You know, I might call myself pastor, but we got we got a title that all of us are given as members of of Christ’s community within the body of Christ. If you’ve accepted Christ as your Savior and you live to know Jesus like He gave you a title at the end of second Corinthians, chapter five, verse 20, and he gave you a particular ministry with that title. And in verse 20 he referred to you as ambassadors. And we know ambassadors represent dignitaries in this world. And if you belong to Jesus, Jesus is your king and therefore you’re Ambassador of Christ in this world. And your ministry is a ministry of reconciliation. You implore people to be reconciled to God. And it tells us in verse 21, He who knew no sin became sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Jesus. It’s that verse of the great exchange. Jesus took our sin that we may take His righteousness and find freedom in Him.
And that is an incredible gift, an incredible thought to even to even think that God would give his life for you. And then you’re given a platform to represent Christ in this world. And Paul doesn’t just give give that statement lightly. He, in Chapter six then wants us to reflect on that. What is what does that mean for us in light of of everything that Jesus has done and how I choose to respond? It’s not just to simply take the title of ambassador and say, my job is about reconciliation in this world. But Paul is now going to use his own life as an example of how does that look? And it’s in its outworking if I’m if I’m really sold out for Christ and I want to live for him in this world, what does that mean for me? And in light of all of that and Paul sets up these first three verses to sort of give us this a little bit of a backdrop. And then and then we’re going to ask three questions for us as it relates to to verse four on and to verse ten, to examine our own lives in light of the Apostle Paul’s example of his life, as to whether or not we’re living truly as ambassadors. And Paul starts it like this the second Corinthians, chapter six, verse one, he says, working together with him, meaning in light of this, this opportunity we’ve been given as.
Ministry of Reconciliation, in this great exchange where Jesus has taken on our sin, that we may be free in Him, we’re now we’re now working together with Christ. We’re all on mission together in Jesus. And then He says, We appeal to you.
Church and Corinth, not to receive the grace of God in vain. I mean, the Goddess doesn’t want you to accept that.
And then that’s it. But when you understand what Jesus has done for your life and the love of God that’s been demonstrated to you, and the freedom from sin that’s been birthed into you and that you’ve become this new creation, as it says in second Corinthians 517, the oldest pass away. Behold the all things have become new in Jesus. Your response should not be to say, Oh, well, you know, that’s great, you know. Let’s move on to something else. But what does this mean to live in light of that and discover that truth and the freedom, the love of God and that relationship as I wake up each and every day to enjoy the gift of what today is and the opportunity that God has given me, how do I maximize the opportunity in coming to Christ and understanding what that that full surrender of myself is in light of Jesus, man, I don’t want to live my life laying down bunts. I want to hit some home runs in Christ name. Like I want my life to make a difference and I want my life to matter and what does that look like? And so Paul gives this thought to to the church in Corinth and to us today.
Don’t don’t receive the grace of God in vain. What does that mean? I mean, what would that look like to receive the grace of God in vain? I mean, maybe just pepper it with this thought.
If when you think to.
To praise God in your life and you and you look to things to praise God for. If all you can think about are things God has done in your life in yesteryear. But not what God has done this year. There’s possibly.
An opportunity being made known in your life where the.
Grace of God might be. Be taking them in. Because God desires to continue to do a work in us and through us. Don’t take the grace of God in vain. In fact, he goes.
In verse two a little bit further and compelling.
The church, he says, for.
He says in a favorable time, I listen to you and the days of salvation I have helped you. Behold, now is the favorable time. Behold, now is the day of salvation.
And Paul’s quoting a passage from Isaiah here.
Where? There, there. Presupposing that the way to salvation.
Through religious works. And and Paul’s quoting Isaiah, where Isaiah talks about the freedom that we’re going to be given as a.
Gift from God by his grace.
And we know that’s happened now in.
Jesus as Jesus has become our advocate, our.
Savior. And He’s reminding us now, because of this precious.
Gift of Christ, how sacred that message is.
For for people to find freedom in Jesus. Not not tomorrow, but right now. Right now you have the privilege of representing Jesus to day as you go into this world, and there’s no better time for someone to put their life in Christ. And then right now and how urgent that is in the moment, because.
Nothing else is promised to you. God doesn’t promise you tomorrow and God doesn’t owe you tomorrow.
And so Paul’s saying don’t delay in this, but understand the necessity of living for Jesus every day, not taking the grace of God in vain, but delivering this message that brings freedom. In verse three. We put no obstacle in anyone’s way so that no one, no fault may be found with our ministry. And as we like to emphasize this, as a as a church, that we understand that the gospel, the truth of who God is, it provides enough stumbling block for people that we don’t want to stand in the way of that. We don’t want to have to make an apology for the way we represent Jesus in the world. The only offense I want people to come across is the truth of who Christ is and whether or not they’re willing to surrender their lives to him. We want to meet people where they’re at and love them as Jesus would love them.
And sometimes I often say this. My wife always yells at me.
But we literally want to love the.
Hell out of people. We do. We do. And she’s not in here. She look good. She’s teaching.
But we do. We don’t. We don’t want to be an obstacle to others. The truth is offensive enough because it’s the.
Surrendering of yourself.
And we understand that all of us struggle because all of us walk in a.
Path of of sin opposed to God, and Jesus had to give his life for that.
And how much of God’s grace had to be poured out on my life in order for me to even be willing to look at the truth of who Christ was, and to give myself to Him and find freedom in Jesus. And I want other people to have that opportunity. And I realize not everyone is going to agree with that. But I want to walk.
As graciously as Christ walked for me that they would have the opportunity to find that freedom in Jesus to. As Paul says.
I want to become all things to all people. We want to open up God’s.
Word to learn and our hearts to love. And to share the truth of Christ. And so, Paul, Paul, this morning, in order to encourage us, he really breaks down the rest of this passage into three, three sections of which for us, we can ask three simple questions to examine.
Whether or not.
We’re we’re taking the grace of God in vain.
Or are we proactively living to proclaim his name. And I.
Didn’t mean for that to rhyme.
But it did, right? Are we taking the grace of God in vain or living proactively to proclaim his name? That’s that’s that’s the question that Paul says. So we’re we’re not just we’re not just responding to this defensively, but we want to go on the offense and what Jesus has called us to in this world. And so this this passage becomes a challenge to our lives to examine them about am I really living for what Christ has called me to in this world? So first question in your notes this morning, is this. Am I willing to.
Go where God leads? Am I really willing to go where God leads? Or maybe we could ask another way. Where am I refusing to follow God’s leading in my life? Where am I.
Refusing to follow God’s leading in my life, Paul? You’re going to see in these next few verses he enrolls in what we could call the school of Hard Knocks and some of the things that he’s willing to to do for the sake of the gospel. And he’s identifying this these coming passages. His life is not one about convenience and comfort. But he rather makes his life about Christ.
He sacrifices comfort for the sake of making Christ known, and.
He gives up things that we would.
Call just safety.
In order to proclaim Christ’s name. One of the passages that I this is not in the verse for, but one of the passages I love of of the Apostle Paul is Philippians chapter three. If I if I said maybe, probably one of my life verses that I really love in the way Paul reflects his heart in this world. He comes from this Philippians three, from this religious experience. He describes himself in Philippians chapter three is the the Hebrew of Hebrews. He’s the most religious person among his people. He was top dog in his class. If you want to know anything about the Apostle Paul, it doesn’t get any more Jewish than Paul. And he’s saying he abandoned it all.
For the sake of Christ Jesus.
And he made his mission about one thing. His life was resolute towards one idea, and he says it in chapter three, verse ten.
I want to know Christ. I said. I want to know who. Christ. I want my.
To be identified with him. I want that relationship with Jesus for which I was created. I want to know Christ.
Yes, to know the power of his resurrection. That’s incredible. I mean, that’s that is some power, isn’t it, to overcome the grave, to be dead for three days and come back to life. I want to know God in that way, right? That kind of God. That’s what I’m laying my life down for. This is what I’m pursuing. This God can overcome anything. He’s. He’s all powerful. If sin, Satan, and death can’t stop him, then nothing’s going to stop him. I want to know this Jesus and this beautiful verse. But then there’s the second half of the verse. And this is the one that sometimes we can kind of mumble, you know, if you know, this passage of scripture, you’re probably really strong at quoting the first half, but then the second half of this.
And participating in sufferings.
Becoming like him in his death, it’s just you just kind of we just kind of muddle through that very quickly. Participating suffers kind of like one death. But I want to know him in the power of his resurrection. But here’s what’s important about this passage. And this becomes significant for us as we look at the.
Rest of this section and second Corinthians.
Because if we don’t hear what Paul is saying appropriately, we’re going to run the risk of promoting.
Religious moralism and our pursuit of what Paul is calling us to in this section of Scripture.
And what I want us to recognize that, yes, Paul is talking about participating in sufferings, becoming like Jesus in his death. But but it’s not in order to receive God’s love, but it’s because.
He’s already discovered God’s love in Christ.
And what I mean by that is this this is a natural outflowing of the depth of his relationship with.
As he as he comes to understand the greatness of who God is and God’s incredible grace that He has poured out on His life. Paul’s life then becomes compelled to share this with others because Paul has found the grace of God and He knows how much it’s transformed his him. And He wants other people to experience it too. And Paul, if you’ve done our yearly Bible reading, we’ve just gotten through the section in the Book of Acts, Chapter eight, Chapter nine, one, when Paul is coming to the the stoning of Stephen. And it tells us in this passage, he he is the one that leads the great birth of the persecution of the church in Jerusalem. To the point that he’s willing to kill Christians.
To stop their cause. And it was that Paul, whose life was radically transformed by the grace of God. As Christians went and ministered to him. The message of truth. And Paul, knowing how hard his heart was, continues to pursue other people who who.
Similarly to the apostle Paul.
They they kick in they scream and they they fight and they even fight against other believers or believers to prohibit this message from going forth. But Paul, now that he has radically seen the grace of God in this life. And he knows how much God has poured out his his life that Paul could find freedom in Jesus. He is willing to walk that road for the sake of others. He’s willing to walk that road to glorify his king. This is not in order to receive God’s love, but because He has discovered God’s love in Christ as Christ has given His life for Paul. And because of that, Paul wants to share in the sufferings of others may find his freedom to.
And, you know, the Christian journey, God, God didn’t beat around the bush.
In describing to us the type of sacrifice that could be involved with this people. In fact, Jesus said to us in Matthew, chapter 16, verse 24, If anyone wishes to follow me, he must deny himself. Take up his cross and follow me. That’s a path of sacrifice.
And that’s a path that we would only we would only live faithfully less if our life is filled up by the grace of God. And we reflect on how how wonderful it is to know the glory of this God, as He has made Himself known in such a personal way to bring us freedom by giving his very life for us.
Or in first Timothy, chapter three, verse 12, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ, Jesus will will be persecuted.
And so Paul in verse four, then he says it like this.
But as servants of God. We commend ourselves in every way by great endurance. And then Paul goes on to list areas of his life that he has demonstrated endurance.
So he’s saying to us, look, if you don’t want to take the grace of God in vain and you really want to live for the glory of God here.
Here’s where this road could lead you. And most likely here where this here’s where this road will lead you.
But but here he starts with this sort of perspective that we need to take in and being willing to walk this road as we we we become known to the to the Lord and we know him. And the grace of God fills our life, and the love of God compels us to to live in this world. And he says, we need great we need great endurance. Look, we’re not just approaching this as a sprint, but this is a marathon. And it’s one of the things we say as a church when someone wants to take on a ministry position here, one of the questions we ask, how committed are you? How committed are you? And one of the illustrations that we we use here as a church, I know this is going to sound insulting if you’ve not heard it before. Some of you are familiar with this. But are you a chicken or are you a pig? That’s all we ask. Are you a chicken or are you a pig? And we simply say it like this, that a chicken on a farm, it can lay an egg and move on.
For a pig to contribute. It’s got to lay down its life.
When it comes to living for the Lord.
Leading for the Lord.
In ministry. Which are you?
The chicken or the pig? And this is what Paul is saying here. This this great endurance with this perspective in mind that whatever the road may be, my end goal is not about the the peripheral of this road, but ultimately Jesus looking up to him, the author and perfector of my faith. And so then he begins to describe it. And when he describes what this road looks like, he breaks it down into clusters of words, these groupings of three words in three different sections. And this this first road that he describes as simply a road that has difficulty in it, he’s saying, look, and when I when I think about this greater endurance, there’s certain things that are going to come with that. And it’s difficult. Roads oftentimes there’s going to be afflictions. There’s going to be hardships and there’s going to be calamity.
And it’s simply to say this. Are you willing to be uncomfortable for Jesus? What takes precedent in your life? Convenience or Christ. Comforts for Jesus. Sometimes I think within Christianity we get lured by convenience and comfort as if it were God. Or are we really if we’re being honest, we follow the God of convenience and comfort and we just peppered Jesus, his name on top. But the minute that faith starts to make me feel that way, we’ll back away. And pulsing when Jesus becomes your absolute in life and your pursuit is just is to know him and to make him know. To live for his glory. You will allow yourselves to get uncomfortable for the cause of Christ. You’ll face those difficulties because ultimately what you want to do is praise God. And I’m not telling you. I’m not telling you. If you really want to follow Jesus intensely, go make your life hard. But I am saying that sometimes in pursuing Jesus, there is a difficult road to walk. But God calls us in this world to be a blessing to people around us, to till the earth and to multiply as God’s God’s people that when someone encounters.
You, though, no matter how difficult the moment will be, and though they may not always.
Agree with you when they walk away. You weren’t a stumbling block to them, but you were literally the loving hands and feet of Christ.
Pulsing with great endurance, then this cluster of words, words of difficulty, affliction, hardship and calamities. And not only that, this next, next cluster of words pulls saying, not only am I willing to go through difficulties, I’m also willing to go through mistreatment. And this is a little counterintuitive to the American dream, because for us, at the end of the day, what matters most to us is us. And but Paul is saying in verse five, he’s saying, I’m willing to go through beatings, imprisonments and riots. If.
By doing so, it would glorify the Lord.
And one of the things I found impressive, even in the Apostle Paul story, not just these aren’t just words on a page for the Apostle Paul. His life demonstrated this like in the Book of Acts in Chapter 16. This is when Paul went to to Philip II. He went to Philip II and he made some rich people mad because of the gospel that he had proclaimed had set lady free. And by setting this lady free, it made these rich people not be quite as rich. And they got ticked and they got Paul in trouble, and Paul got thrown in jail and Paul got beat before he got thrown in jail. But there was one problem with beating Paul before he got thrown in jail was that Paul was a Roman citizen. Paul and Silas traveling at this time. They were Roman citizens and they were guaranteed as Roman citizens due process in the court of law. And not to give that to them was to break the law of what.
Citizenship meant in Rome. And there was justice to pay. And Paul and Silas found themselves in a jail in Philippi. And they they decided to release Paul and Silas and Paul and Silas knowing.
That they had violated the very law against them. Paul and Silas, they they endured the beating, even though and in those moments, they could have said, we’re Roman citizens, you can’t beat us like this. They went ahead and endured the beating because they understood that it would give them leverage with the governing authorities in that region to always be able to go back to Philippi and to be able to promote the gospel freely. And so they endured it for the sake of the Gospel Acts, chapter 16, verse 37. But Paul said to them, they have beaten us publicly condemned men who are Roman citizens and have thrown us in a prison. And do they now throw us out secretly? No. Let them come themselves and take us out. The police reported these words to the magistrates and they were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens. So they came and apologised to them and they took them out.
And asked them to leave the city. So they went out.
Of the prison and visited Lydia and when they.
Had sent the brothers, they encouraged them and departed. Paul recognized. Enduring that suffering was going to give them incredible advantage for the gospel in that community. So what did they do? They sacrifice convenience. Or excuse me. They they let go of convenience in order to follow Christ. For the sake of his name as ambassadors in Christ. They didn’t want to take the grace of God in vain, but wanted the opportunity to proclaim Jesus. Am I willing to go where God leads? And then category number three, in these last three verses, he says this. He labors. He has sleepless nights and he hungers. These are words of devotion to Christ.
He’s willing to take temporary displeasure.
In order to make Chrysler. Labor a little extra that day. Spend a little time, maybe at night someone comes in and as he’s worked all day and he’s he is dead tired and he just wants to go to bed. But it was at 9:00 at night, someone came up and said, Can you tell me about Jesus? So he stays till the wee hours of the morning proclaiming Christ to a family. Even to the point that he’s willing to forgo his dinner that evening just to share Christ. Am I willing to go where God leads? I’m not telling you. Sell your house and move to Africa. But I’m.
Saying with all of us, God.
Has given us a certain area to be responsible for. And in that area that we’re responsible for, we have relationships. We have friendships with people that we interact with every day. How how well are you following God’s lead to direct those with you to Christ? You got a family? Are you going with Jesus? And are you leading that family? Your friends. What kind of influence are you being upon them or you are you taking the opportunity to to lead them in Christ or are they leading you? Am I willing to go where God leads? I know sometimes we we look at these kind of words and we ask the question, well. Does that mean I need to be a doormat? For people to.
Simply take an to take advantage of or is is Paul becoming a doormat for people to just walk over?
How did he do it? How did he.
Endure this this kind of circumstance in order to promote Christ? He’s going to he’s really going to tell us how how he was able to endure in these situations and verse six and seven. But but I want to I want us to think for a minute that in these sections, Paul is not saying, look, go out in this life and just let people abuse you. Just let him beat you up. Just, you know, just let people take advantage. That’s not what Paul’s promoting here. Paul is saying, look, I’m being intentional. He’s not just saying, look, let people take advantage of it just so people can take advantage of you saying, if I could figure out in a circumstance where my inconvenience would become convenient for the sake of the Gospel, I was willing to walk that road. Now Paul’s saying, look, I showed up to Philip II and just let people punch me in the face. Just just so I could say people hit me. Right. That’s not his objective. His objective is he looked at the moment he realised by enduring what he was about to endure, that it would give them huge opportunity to proclaim Christ with freedom in the town of Philippi. So he was willing to endure that for the sake of the Gospel. If he could understand how that moment.
Would elevate Christ. He was willing to do it. So for you and Frye, it’s not to simply say, let’s let people just hurt us. But it’s to say in the circumstance, God provides work and allow myself to be more inconvenienced. To become uncomfortable. To let Christ be made known. Do you challenge yourself? Does your Christian faith feel challenged? Have you taken the opportunity to share Jesus?
It’s one of the things I love about being a part.
Of a community, because as a community, when we make this our objective, we can do so much more together for the cause of Christ. Now I think about as a church.
Even this year, one of the things that I think I’ll wear is as a as a badge of honor and thankfulness. And being a part of this community is to know. Earlier this year, we we purchased a religious building from a radical group that was training.
Blow themselves up. And we.
Bought that facility from that religious group and we gave it to a Christian organization.
To proclaim the goodness of who Jesus was that people could find freedom in him. That is incredible that we did this or even this past week, like this past week. Some of you know, we didn’t publicly broadcast this, but we had we had groups from all over the United States here at our church all week long. And we were training them in certain things and they were just being.
Exposed to Utah. We had at least seven different states here, people from Mississippi. Shane’s here still this morning.
But Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, Florida, North Carolina, Michigan, Colorado. So we came and served this past week just just going out throughout communities. We sent we sent those groups. We taught them how to reach Utah and then sent them to churches throughout the state to go minister. So without even in some of us realizing it, you were a big part of encouraging by having this place for us to gather, a big part of it encouraging churches all over the state of Utah. For some of you that were a part of.
Our food pantry this past week.
I mean, every week in our church, we a minimum of.
100 people were sharing the love of Christ with praying for them, talking to them about the Lord. How how uncomfortable. Are you willing to get for the sake of the gospel? Question number two. Does my character reflect Christ? Or maybe we say Christ character does my character reflect Christ character? And in parentheses here, especially in adversity.
And we could ask maybe the flip of that is where.
Is my character? Not like Christ.
Where right now can you identify that.
You’re you don’t represent Jesus well? Where are you struggling? Paul. He’s saying to us in this next few verses, he was able to go where God called him to go because he had surrendered to be who God had called him to be.
And I want us to to recognize and look at this. This is we’re not promoting moralism here. We’re promoting knowing Jesus and fully surrendering your life to him. And the outworking of that as Christ fills you up is that the character of God would reflect in your life. Because as you’re surrendered to Jesus, you start to be conformed into his image. Jesus starts to mold his image in you, and when you walk in this earth, you look like Christ.
To the world. Does my character reflect? Christ’s character, Paul, in this this section, he gives us some.
Some words to think about, and he clusters these in groups of two as we consider our own life in light of Jesus am I when we make when we make our life about these these words, when we when our being wants to be about.
Then no matter where we go in this world and no matter where the road leads, what we emulate, whether it’s a difficult time or an easy time, is Christ made known in our and our lives, in us and through us. And Paul says it like this.
He walked by purity and knowledge. Purity means.
His heart was given fully.
Over to the Lord, and knowledge means with wise understanding of how to represent Jesus as He went along. First, Paul says, in order.
In all of those those.
Battles that he faced, he described to us in the previous verses. In order to do that, it’s important to recognize his posture. Was pure in its pursuit to Jesus. It was given to Christ alone. And with the knowledge of Christ, he would see the world as Christ sees the world.
He He knows.
The truth of God that that he could.
See the the things and the needs of this world as Jesus would see this world. One of my favorite lines in.
A worship song is from the song Whose Hosanna Gets Me Every Time. Every time we sing it. God break my heart for what breaks yours. Everything I am for your kingdoms calls. Purity and knowledge. To look upon the soul of another individual and to see them as Jesus would see them. Policy no matter the circumstance. Because of that, I don’t want to Christ be made known even to my enemies that they could find freedom because at one point I was the enemy of Christ. Does my character reflect Christ’s character?
Some people describe it like this, that Jesus gets first priority.
And everything, and then everyone else gets second, third and fourth, and they might just say, family second.
Job third. You know what? What our church and family or I don’t know how you break it down. They’ll just kind of rank their life. And rather than do that, I think it’s better to say it like.
This that that Jesus becomes the center of everything. And out of that, the outworking of all of my relationships. There are certain priorities to my relationship, like wife and family. It takes first priority, but. But out of my my relationship with Jesus, who is central. All all that come in contact with me should be blessed through that.
So there’s purity and knowledge. Second is this is patience and kindness. Patience and kindness. Patience is kind of a reactive word and kindness is kind of a proactive word. But these two go hand in hand. There’s this this patience towards people that need the extra patience. And then then I bring about kindness towards them that they could find the the love of Christ in my life and through my life and the truth of who Jesus is. So there’s this. This patience and kindness. Can I just let you in on a little secret?
When I get what I want. Right when I want it. I am the most patient person in the world. When everyone does what I want them to do, I’m full.
Of it when no one else is ever around.
I am incredibly patient. But Paul is saying these words in the midst of the difficulty he’s facing. In the middle of the riots. In the middle of the imprisonments. He was patient. And not only was he patient, he he was also kind. Because he knew what that heart needed. And if he respond with vengeance towards those that were reacting negatively towards him, they would never have hurt his message. So I’ll say in this passage, does my character reflects Christ’s character? Not not just when it’s convenient to be patient. But when you’re in the midst of adversity. How well do you represent Jesus? And I want you to know, if you read this word of patience and kindness and we’re just kind of honest with ourselves, everyone struggles with patience.
And we could feel the guilt of that and say, Oh, man, I’ve got to try harder.
At being patient. Can I tell you the answer to being more patient is not try harder. To being patient. It’s to recognize in your life that if you aren’t patient, there’s an area of your life you’re not fully surrendered to Christ.
And so he goes on further and he says this then.
Through the Holy Spirit and.
Genuine love. I love that. It’s to say, you know, the fruit of the spirits, Lovejoy. Peace, patience, kindness. Right? Love, peace, patience, kindness. It’s there in the fruit of the spirit. And so as to help us realize that if there’s an area of my life that I’m struggling to let Jesus be made known, it’s communicating to me that there’s an area of my life that have not fully surrendered to God. So I need to be asking the question, why am I holding on to this rather than give it to Jesus?
And then it refers to it here. There’s this genuine love. Everyone loves when it’s convenient to love. Everyone loves when it’s easy to love. It’s Jesus who loved us in our sin. And it’s the.
Christian that’s called to do the same thing. And we’re only ever going to have the strength to do that as our hearts are surrendered to Christ. And we know we know the greatness of His grace that met us in our lives, in the midst of our sin.
Does my character reflect Christ? And then he says this by truthful speech and the power of God. I love how he’s coupled those two terms together, because.
Sometimes in life, when we understand what the truth.
Is, we will leverage that as a tool to abuse people, and we will become People’s Holy Spirit. Accept my message and we’ll try to railroad people to embrace what we proclaim because we feel like it’s it’s so important and we’re there to convict them. And it’s not up to us. But we take the truth of God’s word and a compassionate way, relying on the power of God to transform lives. It’s not us. And so we we we pepper our our conversations with people, with gospel centric conversations.
You don’t go into this world and preach the gospel and expect everyone just to immediately be saved in Jesus, but rather you can pepper the Gospel of Christ throughout. You have gospel conversations with people and how God’s working in your life and the truths that you’ve learned. You don’t have to be an expert. Like you can literally open up your Bible and realize you don’t know all of this, but you might know a verse and it might impact you. And you can just share that with somebody and they can ask you a question and be like, I don’t know, I’ve only just started this journey.
I’ve just read one verse. I just thought it was awesome. I wanted to share it with you.
I’ll go ask you a question you don’t know. You can go learn that later.
You know, it has to be the expert. You just take the truth of God as you’ve learned it and and share it. And then he says this with weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left. Typically, the left hand was used for a shield. The right hand was used for fighting. But I want you to know that Paul is not thinking and go beat people up here to he’s he’s saying rather the war that we we rage against and fight against is a spiritual battle for the souls of people. We don’t fight people. We fight for people. But they could find the freedom of Christ to pull saying this. This has an ambassador. This was my pursuit. I was sent by my king to bring freedom to people who are in bondage. And I labored.
For this and I warred for this, that they they may find the truth of who God was, just as I did, knowing that I was held captive. And this is the way I walked my life, knowing that the road wasn’t always going to be easy to walk. I walked with this posture in mind so that I would represent Jesus no matter the circumstances. So we can ask Paul then.
Paul, what kind of results did you see? What kind of results did you discover in poll would answer the question like this? He would say, Well, it depends on from whose perspective you’re looking at it. And this becomes the third question. In your notes, let me ask this and I’ll talk about perspective is has this and my compromising my faith for the temporal or living for the eternal? Am I compromising my faith for the temple or am I living for the the eternal? And Paul, he says this. Through honor and dishonor. And through slander and praise. Um. Depending on whose perspective you’re viewing Paul’s life, you might give a different report of who he is. In fact, the reason Paul is truly presenting this case before the Corinthians is because Paul is being accused by these super apostles in his church that Paul isn’t that great of a Christian.
And that they need to follow the.
Super Apostles leadership rather than the Apostle Paul, and they can continue to diminish him. They say, look at Paul, look what he’s gone through. He’s been beaten, he’s been in prison, he’s been.
Hungry, and the guy can barely hold it together and barely walk now.
Because of everything he’s going through. Do you want to be like Paul? And Paul’s saying, but my life has been nothing about the beauty of Christ and making him known. I’m I here to impress you with who I am. And so if you’re going to examine the results of my life, it really depends on whose perspective you’re looking for from people who live for the temporal things of this world. For people who live for the eternal things of God. And he lists these words from both of those perspectives. And so from that point of view in Christ, yes, what he’s what he’s done is full of honor. But the people of this world, they may look at them with dishonor.
People of this world. They may slander him. But those that live for the Lord, they praise.
What what God’s doing through the Apostle Paul. We are treated as imposters in this world. Before Christ, he’s walking. In truth.
Other people may treat him as nobody unknown.
And yet in Christ, he is fully.
Somebody look at him and see he’s walking a road of death, but he finds himself in Jesus completely alive. Some might see his life as punished. But Paul knows. Yeah, but you can’t stop him. He’s. He’s not able to be killed.
His life as eternal in Christ.
It’s horrible and some perspectives from what he’s lost in this world. But yeah, he is fully rejoicing.
Because he knows everything that he has in Christ.
Yet making many rich.
In Jesus yet is having nothing from a worldly perspective. He knows He possesses everything in Christ. He may have given up the things of wealth in this world. But in Christ, he is completely rich and blessed because he has that relationship with Jesus forever. And as Ephesians one describes, we have all that we need in Christ Jesus. Do I take the grace of God in vain? Or am I challenging myself to really live it to the fullest? Do I really see that position that God has gifted me with as his ambassador to proclaim his name in this world? Or do I just live for convenience and comfort and throw Christ’s name on top? It’s a challenging message, isn’t it? But the only way that really is birthed in our life is that verse that Paul, Paul mentioned to us Philippians chapter three, verse ten.
It’s driven not by moralism, not by guilt, but by your own relationship in Christ, as he has made himself known in your life. And you have allowed your soul to be.
Lavished in his graceful presence. That others may find that freedom to. Let me give you a few illustrations of maybe some practical out workings in our lives as we think.
About living this out. There was a a famous man, Bertoldo de Giovanni.
Rolls off the tongue.
Bertoldo di Giovanni, 15th century artist. He was taught by Donatello, and he was the teacher of Michelangelo. And I know when you guys hear that, you immediately start thinking way. I’ve never I’ve never been told about Bertoldo and my Ninja Turtles because you know how it goes. You’ve got Michelangelo and and you’ve got Donatello. But Leonardo and Raphael. How does that sneak in? It should be. It should be Donatello, Bertoldo and Michelangelo. You have been ripped off from your childhood. So familiar that way. But Bertoldo Bertoldo taught Michelangelo and at 14 years old, had him as a student. And Bertoldo knew that.
Sometimes talented people coast, they tend to coast sometimes on their talent.
And one day Bartolo walked.
Into a room and he saw Michelangelo working on a sculpture that was far below his talent. And he grabbed a hammer and he stormed over to Michelangelo and he and he crushed the sculpture. And he said this. Michelangelo. Talent is cheap. But dedication is costly. You think without a teacher like that, to to challenge you? Would you have things like the Sistine Chapel today? The great works of art that came through the hand of Michelangelo. And I think the same thing about us that we’re created in Christ Jesus and Ephesians. Chapter two, verse ten for good works. And the illustration, if he’s in Chapter ten, Chapter two, verse ten is, is the picture of an artist given a great canvas to paint. Okay. God wants you to make something beautiful with your life. Because God is making something beautiful in you with his life.
And the way that’s made known is not to.
Walk in the places of comfort and convenience, but to see your life challenged and Christ.
If I sell like this, challenge yourself not to take the grace of God in vain.
But to make something beautiful in Jesus name. That’s what Paul’s saying here. Don’t lay down a bond. Let God work through you to hit some home runs. Where have you just kind of gotten relaxed in the Christian life and and just kind of coasting along on your talent rather rather than really seeing what God wants to do in you and through.
I think the great David Livingston, who.
Has also a mustache worth.
Bragging about. But great, great Dave Livingston was a missionary to Africa and he walked some estimate some 29,000 miles.
All over the continent of Africa, proclaiming the grace of God. And what he desired to know was this God, send me anywhere, only go with me. Like any burden on me, only sustain me, sever me from any tie. But the tie that binds me to your service. And to your heart. That’s the beauty of this journey, isn’t it? That has your life is challenged in that challenge. You get to find out if God fulfills his promises and walking with you. I mean, Jesus said, I am with you always. And that’s what the Apostle Paul said, that I may know him. And the power of his resurrection. And look at this. And the fellowship of a suffering being made like him, even unto death. Paul saying, Not only do I want to know Jesus, I want to know the depth of Jesus, even in the hard things. I want to see God faithful to meet me there all the way to the point of death as I fellowship with him.
Even in my suffering, to find that Christ.
Sustains me. God, I am willing to go if you would go with me. And the promise of a scripture is that he was he’s there. He’s there. My my heart my heart is often challenged when I when I encounter Christians going through difficult things.
Our tendency is people when you find people going through hard things is try to help them immediately figure out how to make it.
Convenient and easy.
And some of us are trying to walk with Jesus in this area that we live in to follow after Christ. It comes with extreme sacrifice. But at the same time, I think that if Christians sustain, sustain where they are and just represent Christ where they are, the potential and opportunity that Jesus has given us that not only do we find him faithful in our lives, but to to use that platform to.
Share Christ with others. There’s incredible opportunity. I’ll end with this one. A couple of heroes. God does a beautiful work. If we’re just willing. To not take the grace of God in vain. But to live for him in Jesus name. A couple of people that we as a church support have love had visited. One is Joseph Thomas on your right in India. The other is Peter Sayoc. Chiyangwa doesn’t get any more African than that, right? But Joseph Thomas grew up as an orphan in India. Trained, taught the word of God, given an education as an orphan and went out and now runs. Runs an orphanage. And educates young ladies who are at risk in India. His wife sundry. We should probably put the pictures of wives up here too. But the Sundry and their beautiful family that just wake up every day to serve for the cause of Christ. Wherever Jesus leads. Pastor Peter, his wife Jolene. He just read the Bible, became a Christian, went to a village that didn’t have a gospel presence. And the Lord directed him to start a church. Started a church and a community that had great need. Through that ministry started rescuing children. He was just willing to go where? God, please. He was an accountant before he decided to follow Jesus. And God’s done a beautiful thing in his life. Because I’m not telling you, you’ve got to move to Africa and start a church and reach children. Right. But I am saying God’s got you somewhere. And to understand that in that it’s important to challenge ourselves because not only do we reach people, but we find the faithfulness of God in those moments. And as we find the faithfulness of God in those moments, God continues to do a beautiful thing through us. Am I taking the grace of God in vain? Well, that depends. Are you willing to go where God leads? Does your character reflect God’s character? And are you compromising your faith for the temple, or do you live for the eternal?