LIFE: living like the gospel is true

LIFE: living like the gospel is true

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“I’m the one that’s got to die when it’s time for me to die, so let me live my life the way I want to.” – Jimmy Hendrix

These words reverberate with most today, don’t they? I don’t doubt you have heard a variation of this: “It’s my life. Though we may not agree on how I should live it, I’m the owner and I’ll decide what’s right for me.”

George Bernard Shaw once wrote, “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” That sounds fantastic, if we’re honest. We can wield creative power, controlling our destiny by our will and actions, even determining what’s right and wrong for ourselves!

But what if that’s a lie? What if we’re created for something greater than autonomy and self-determination? What if we’re made for more than being a king among seven billion other kings?

According to the Bible, we’re not creators but created. We’re built not to be a king among the rest, but to know and serve the King of the universe. This is the only path for true and lasting joy—it’s why we exist.

The apostle Paul put it like this: “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16).

In this sermon series we will examine what it looks like to live LIFE, and live it to the fullest. Join us each Sunday at 10:30am at 515 W Okmulgee Ave. in Muskogee, OK. There will be a Q&A time following every time of teaching, where you can feel free to ask anything you want!

 

#1 LIFE 2Despite the belief of many today, how we live matters because we are created by God as eternal beings. What we do today and tomorrow, at least in some sense, echoes through eternity. Sadly, many today live as though they are the king of their lives, seeking to wield creative power, controlling their destiny by their will and actions, even determining what’s right and wrong for themselves. Interestingly enough, the Bible says the exact opposite is true when it comes to living a meaningful life. In fact, it’s precisely because we try to be the king that many of us live lives of eternal insignificance. The Bible says we’re created not to be kings among the rest, but to know and serve the King of the universe (see John 17:3). In Galatians 2:20, Paul is essentially saying this: “The way to live a meaningful, truthful, echoes-through-eternity life, is to live not for yourself. You need to have your old self—the self that longs to be king—die. Paul’s saying, “What it looks like to not waste your life is to live through faith in and obedience to Jesus.” That’s why he says, “The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God.” 

Yet Paul’s meaning goes much deeper than that. His meaning goes deeper because our predicament is much worse than simply not living the way we should. The truth is we have two great problems: 1) We owe a debt to God we cannot pay, and 2) We don’t have the will to give up our sin. Thanks be to God that on the cross, Jesus was paying for both our penalty for sin and the power that sin wields over us. Those who’s faith is in Jesus have been “crucified with Christ” and can now by God’s grace live by “faith in the Son of God, who loved [them] and gave himself up for [them].” 

 

#2 WORKINGWhy do we work?
“Work was not a necessary evil that came into the picture later, or something human beings were created to do but that was beneath the great God himself. No, God worked for the sheer joy of it. Work could not have a more exalted inauguration.”¹ We work because God created us to, it is inherently good, and it is a continuation of His work. 

Then how should we work? 
We should work in at least these four ways: to Provide (2 Thessalonians 3:10-11; 1 Timothy 5:8), to Give (Ephesians 4:18; 2 Corinthians 9:6), to
 Love the World (1 Corinthians 7:17), and to Serve Jesus (Colossians 3:23-24). 

But how can we work well?
We can work well as we both look back and look forward. Here’s what I mean: look back to the cross and look forward to Jesus’ future kingdom. When we look back to the finished work of Jesus in our place, we are freed from fear because He already worked perfectly to restore our worth. When we look forward to the future Kingdom He is going to establish, we can be filled with hope because He is going to make things the way they should be. 
If you know this is your past (you are wired for work), this is your present (Jesus has redeemed your worth through His work), and this is your future (Jesus is going to bring to perfection every good thing you are working toward), you will be able to work well here and now for His glory and the joy of all people. 

 

#3 KILLINGWhy does it matter if we kill someone?
The secular view, that we are products of chance or “lucky animals”, is terribly inconsistent with human beings having inherent value. In direct opposition, the Bible teaches that we are made in the image of God. This means ever human being has value, regardless of their mental, physical, or social state. Therefore it matters if we kill someone because we’re ending the life of something made after God’s likeness. God says in Genesis 9:5-7 that He will require our life as payment if we kill someone unjustly. 

To kill or not to kill? 
Is it ever justifiable for the government to kill? Sometimes (Romans 13:1-4). What about a soldier or police officer? Sometimes (Romans 13:1-4; Luke 3:14). Is it ever justifiable to kill in self-defense? Sometimes (Exodus 22:22-23). What about abortion? Although some of the before mentioned issues have grey areas, it seems abortion does not. Biblically, scientifically, and rationally, abortion is murder. We’re not meant to murder, we’re meant to love—love God and love those made in His image. Those who have murdered have blood on their hands, and what they are owed is death. However, the bloodguilt on the hands of every murderer is, I dare say, on all of us. Jesus clarifies in Matthew 5:21-22 that if we are even angry at or insult our brother that we are liable to the same judgement. 

How can we do what we should—love? 
First, in order to love like we should, we need to have our bloodguilt removed. Thankfully “in [Jesus] we have redemption through His blood” (Ephesians 1:7). We owe our blood to God yet the gospel says that on the cross Jesus stepped in and spilled His in our place. Second, in order to do what we should, we need to have a deep, life-changing motivation to love. You’re only going to love like you should to the degree that the bloodguilt-freeing, self-sacrificial, unmerited-love of Jesus is your treasure and focus. Murder says, “your life for mine.” Jesus says, “My life for yours.” Is He your treasure and focus? If so, you are forgiven and will begin to love God and others like you should. 

 

#4 SEX AND SEXUALITY  The Christian view of sex is far different than the other three predominant views in the world today. It doesn’t say, “sex doesn’t matter” like the licentious view; it doesn’t say, “follow your desires” like the secular view; neither does it say, “squash your desires” like the legalistic view. The Christian view says, “channel your desires.”

  Sex is not insignificant, God, or gross. Rather, it is a divine gift to be enjoyed within the covenant of marriage between a man and a women. Anything outside of this is sexually immorality (porneia). We are to flee from sexual immorality because it’s sin against God, against others, and even against ourselves. Surprisingly enough, the answer to sexual immorality is not sexual morality. Paul doesn’t simply say, “Flee from sexual immorality to a proper sexual ethic.” What does he say? Flee to Jesus! We don’t simply need a new morality; we need a new Master (vv. 19-20). We need to flee to the One to whom we belong. “You are not your own, you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (vv. 20). 

  There at least two reasons that Jesus buying us on the cross helps us flee from sexual immorality: 1) it reveals where true joy can be found, and 2) it reveals where our true value can be located. Instead of looking for joy in sexual immorality, we can be assured that following Jesus’ plan for sex will bring us the most joy. After all, He is so committed to our good He bought us back from sin and death with his own life. Instead of looking for our value in our sexual identity or activity, we can flee to Jesus knowing our ultimate value is in Him. He loves us deeply, and paid a high price to buy us back from our sin. “You were ransomed…not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18-19). 

 

#5 EATING AND DRINKING    Believe it or not, the story of the world—creation, fall, redemption and restoration—can be traced through meals. In the Bible we see the forbidden meal (Genesis 3), the passover (Exodus 12), the last supper (Luke 22), the Lord’s supper (1 Corinthians 11), and the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19). Truly, the Biblical view of food and drink could not be higher! But what about the Biblical ethic of food and drink? When it comes to what we should or shouldn’t eat and drink, we need to ask will this glorify God

    What is the glory of God? It is at least the combined magnitude of all God’s attributes and qualities put together.¹ And eating and drinking to the glory of God means eating and drinking in such a way to show that the ultimate treasure is not food or drink, but Jesus. 

    Ultimately, food and drink exist as a shadow of the true food and true drink that is Jesus Himself—who He is and what He’s done in His life, death, and resurrection as your Savior (Colossians 2:16-17). That is why, speaking of His cross, Jesus says, Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” (John 6:54-56). The only way we are going to physically eat and drink to the glory of God is if we are first spiritually eating and drinking the true substance—Jesus. 

 

Caption Me!

    How we speak is of great importance because “death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 21:18). Jesus even says, “whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire” (Matthew 5:22). Again He says, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak” (Matthew 12:36). Either Jesus is being too severe, or we do not have an accurate view of the power of words. The later must be true. In Ephesians 4:29, Paul says our speaking needs to 1) build others up, not corrupt, 2) fit the right occasion, and 3) give grace to those who hear. 
    One way we can be properly motivated to speak graciously to others is to see how God graciously speaks to us whose faith is in Jesus. Even though we have all sinned and spoken in ways that deserve “the hell of fire,” Jesus came and died to call us forgivenbeloved child, and loved. We know His words are not empty; they are not flattery. Jesus’ words of grace to you are as real as the scars on His hands. 
#7 MONEY AND POSSESSIONSWhat we do with money and possessions matters for at least two reasons. First, how we use them reveals what we love (vv. 21). Second, they can be a powerfully enslaving false-god (vv. 22-24). Jesus says we should not treasure earthly treasures because they will not ultimately be able to satisfy us. They will wear out. Instead, He calls us to treasure heavenly treasures which will indeed satisfy. They are eternal. Jesus is the true heavenly Treasure. Every heavenly treasure is only a treasure at all because it affords us an opportunity to know Jesus more fully. Moth and rust cannot destroy Jesus. And thieves cannot break in and steal your relationship with Him. Therefore we should generously give our earthly treasures to help people meet the heavenly Treasure, Jesus. In addition to helping people meet Jesus, we should give to help people be loved and served like Jesus does to us. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).