Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at Faith, Hope & Love P67 (09-21-20)
We want to have attitudes of heart formed in us, the same attitude that is in Christ Jesus. A picture of the attitude of Christ Jesus is when he was in the garden of Gethsemane, agonizing over what he will experience for our sakes. Jesus said, “Lord, if there is any other way for this to be done, but it is not my will, but your will be done.”
These attitudes of heart, of servitude, of not wanting our own way, of not putting ourselves first, but honoring one another above ourselves, of going to another who is caught up in sin, not to condemn but to restore, of setting out to make peace with everyone, as far as it depends on you. These attitudes show up, of not having a critical spirit on another brother or sister who is called to a different function with a different gift than you, of not being jealous of another person’s success or notoriety or popularity, of being humble of heart saying if it were not for grace of God there go I.
And of forgiving one another because in Christ you are already a forgiven person. Of saying to another, you are forgiven, because of what Jesus did for me, and for the sins of the whole world, over 2000 years ago. What Jesus did satisfied the wrath of God against all sin! If what Christ did was good enough for God, then how could I not forgive someone else. It has already been done.
So we begin to look at people for not who they are right now, but the capacity to become a new creation, of someone to be loved, who needs to know the love of God. We see a caterpillar right now, but we see a butterfly that God wants to make out of them. For while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. He saw what we needed, and so he sought to meet that need. That need is that we are dead, without the Spirit of God in us, and are in need of life. So he did something for us that we could never do for ourselves, take our sins away and give us an offer of new life. There is no greater love than that! That is servitude, doing the will of the one who sent you.
This attitude of heart is formed in us from the moment we are born again, having the Spirit of God placed in us, where we become a part of the body of Christ, with Jesus as the head of this new body, of which I am a part. Each member of this body, of the born again, we can access this divine nature of God, allowing Him to transform the way we think, having the mind of Christ, to have the same attitude of heart as Christ Jesus.
This is the progression that we have, the love of God first. Now, I am learning to love Him as a result of understanding His love for me. When that begins to occur, the by-product is that now we can experience in love what enables us in turn to love one another. This is the new life God has given us that shows up in our love for one another. As Jesus said, “All men will know you are my disciples when you love one another.”
We are studying today the attitudes toward the body of Christ. We are looking at a number of instructions from the Lord. I will take a quick review.
How can we ever expect to love one another if we do not even love God? That is where it all starts.
1 John 4:10
10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
1 John 4:19
We love because he first loved us.
It is not that we loved God but that He loved us first. In order for us to ever experience love, it has to start by loving our creator. God gave that to us throughout the scripture, and has that in the commands of God.
34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[Deuteronomy 6:5] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[Leviticus 19:18] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Love you God with all your mind, heart, and soul and love your neighbor as yourself. That is the progression that we have, the love of God first. Now, I am learning to love Him as a result of understanding His love for me. When that begins to occur, the by-product is that now we can experience in love what enables us in turn to love one another.
1 Corinthians 12:13
13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body – whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
As Jesus explained to us that when we came to Him by faith we were placed into the body of Christ. That is what it means to be baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ. That means we are placed there. We are now identified as a member of His body here on this earth. He is head. We are the body.
18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.
So it explained in Romans 12 how that allows us to be one body and yet it is made up of many, many parts and not all members have the same function. So quit looking at the fact that I am a hand but those dumb feet are not doing what I did. So we become critical of one another when we do not understand we were all part of the body but have different functions in that body and God does not expect everyone to do the same function. People will come and say, “you do pretty good in evangelism, but are you feeding the poor?” No, someone else is doing that function who is not teaching. That does not mean I wouldn’t. That just means that is not what God has called me to do. He has called many people to be engaged in that function. “Well, that does not sound very spiritual to me. All you are doing is feeding people food and they are going to get hungry the next day anyway. What I am feeding is eternal stuff.” So that is what you are getting into, back and forth, instead of seeing this is all a part of the body of Christ. God put different gifts down in this body for the edification of the body of His. So we need to quit looking at each other, that they are not doing what I am doing, and quit being critical of each other that way.
13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
In Colossians, we read about forgiving one another. How? Forgive one another as Christ Jesus forgave us. As we know, Christ forgave us totally. He does not not wait for us to say “please forgive me.” He has forgiven us and we are forgiven people. That attitude does penetrate into our hearts and begins to permeate our attitudes in regard to one another. People can come up and say, “Will you forgive me on something?” To be honest, forgiveness is not really the issue. You are already forgiven. The issue is, “you acted like a jerk.” That could be you or me acting like a jerk. The whole thing here is forgiveness should be just there. It is not something you have to work at. It is just there as a result of understanding that Christ took away my sins and forgiven me and also forgiven you. If you are good enough for Christ, then you are good enough for me.
18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
In Romans, it talks about how to live in peace with all men. What should be our attitude? Romans 12 tells us that. As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. That does not mean everyone will want to live with peace with you, but as far as you are concerned, and depends on you, if possible, live at peace with someone. Our attitude has to be, “I am going to live with an attitude of peace toward my enemies as well as my friends. But that does not mean that they are going to want to live at peace with me.
Our attitude in regard to serving one another, especially as it relates to other people’s mistakes and sins. We talked about this in Galatians 6:1.
1 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.
If someone is caught in sin, then those who are spiritual, who are in Christ Jesus, should restore them. You never go with an attitude of condemnation but always restoration. You are never to go to them with an attitude I could never do such a thing. Watch yourself, for you also may be tempted. That tells us that any sin someone is in, you can be tempted and be involved in it. That is hard for us to imagine, especially as it relates to some types of sin, where you say, “I cannot envision that.” Yes, you may not be able to envision it, but it does not mean you could not become entrapped in it. I do not think there is any sin done on the face of the earth that we are not capable of committing. We should never go with an attitude of saying, “Thank God that I am not a sinner like those people but rather with an attitude with “for the grace of God, there go I.”
25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
In Matthew 20, we talked about the attitude of servitude, that whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant. Whoever wants to be first must be your slave. The Son of man did not come to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many. That is a tough thing, but when love looks at others at what they can become, not necessarily what they are. We need to remember that we are all in the process of spiritual growth. “Do not be too hard on him because God is not finished with him yet.” That is good advice. Many times we see a person in a fallen condition. How many times do we see people who are dying addicts and alcoholics and all kinds of criminal activity and on their faces is that stain of their lifestyle. A few years later you see them. They are fresh and are at peace. “What in the world happened to you?” “Christ Jesus redeemed me.”
The issue is we do not look at a person for who they are right now, but look at them as what they are capable of becoming. Look at the old caperillar and it is sad, and ground bound with an ugly exterior. But that caterpillar is capable of becoming a beautiful gorgeous butterfly. We need to look at people that way. The way you are is the way you are, but God built into you the capacity to become something greater than what you are. When we look at people through those eyes we begin to see people through eyes of love as Jesus Christ saw us.
2 Corinthians 5:16-19
16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.
Now, we will pick in Luke 22:41-42.
41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
It is talking about Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, prior to being arrested by an army of Roman soldiers, taken to trial under Pontius Pilate and to be tortured, crucified and buried, only to rise again. But in that garden, we read that tears came down like sweats of blood from his face, for he was in terrific agony. We have to realize how important the final words of Christ really are. It is not that his other words are not, but you and I both know that if we knew we only had a brief time to live on this earth and we had the opportunity of gathering our children and loved ones around us, we would express to them the most important things in the world to us, and to express that to them.
I remember my dad on his deathbed of saying to my brother and I, “Guys, the only thing that matters is man and his relationship to God.” I remember that because of all the words that my dad said, those are the ones I remember the most, the fact that the only thing that matters when dying like this is a man and his relationship to God.
So, I think when we look at these final words of Christ, we see him in a terrific mode of suffering in the depths of his soul. He knew what was up ahead of him. The heartache that he was going through was not because he was going to be captured by Roman soldiers and not because of the torture he knew he was going to go through and not just because of the pain and agony of death he was going to die. But the fact that he was going to have to take upon himself the sins of the entire world upon himself.
2 Corinthians 5:21
21 He who knew no sin became sin for us so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.
I have said many times, but I remember in my early Christian experience, when teaching a Sunday school of young people. I remember someone asking a question, “How can it be that a man like Jesus would be sweating great drops of blood? What kind of agony was that? Lesser men than that are going to the electric chair, and go with a certain calmness and resolve that this is the end of it all, and do not sweat as it were, great drops of blood. So what is bringing all this about? How can he be so fearful of what is ahead of him?” It was not the fear of death Jesus was experiencing. Let me give you an illustration.
43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
We were talking to the young people and a little girl who asked that question. Let me ask you a question. If you knew tomorrow that you knew you were to be captured by a hundred deviates who would drag you out to some dirty field, and rape and molest you for hours, how do you think you would respond to that, knowing that is what you are going to have to go through? “I would be sweating, as it were, great drops of blood.” Now you start to get the picture. In other words, what Jesus had to do was take every miserable sin that there is upon himself at that cross. One who knew no sin had never experienced any kind of a separation from his Father, had never touched, in essence sin, looked at and seen, but never been a part of it, and all of a sudden had to sit down and eat garbage so to speak. That is a very, very disgusting thought for him.
(Referring to a staff member.) You gave an illustration that you saw in a church service that I thought was an excellent picture. You said on Good Friday that the pastor of a church you had gone to on that Good Friday service, that they had a large cross there. And what they did with the congregation was to say, “I just want one representative from each family. If you got five children, I just want one. For every representative of a family, or if you are single, by yourself, to come up.” There he had nails. He asked to drive one nail into that cross. So everyone there, who was representing just a family, not just themselves, but could be five or six people, drove individually those nails into that cross. After everyone had gone there, and driven those nails into the cross, they lifted that. All you could see were nails. You thought, “my God, what He did for us!” That is just one little congregation of people. That was for the sins, not just one single sin, but the hundreds of sins that would have been represented there by that one nail, and he died for the entire world up there.
Now he knelt down and said, “Father if you are willing, take this cup from me.” He is saying that if there is any other way to redeem man except for me to have to become sin and take upon myself and literally be molested by the world I made, if there is any way to do that, do it. But on the other hand, it is not my will but yours be done. That is not Jesus saying that it is not his will to die for the creation of man. He came for that purpose. But in the final moments, it is like saying, “Did we miss something here? Is there any other way to be doing this Father than me having to be subjected to taking upon every sin of this world?” But he said, “not my will but yours be done.” This is an attitude of servitude that comes from surrendering your and my rights to not always have to have our own way. It is a perfect picture of that truth, that we do not have to have our own way.
1 John 5:4-15
14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.
It says in scripture that anything we ask according to His will He hears us and answers us. We have people who negate that and make fun of that, saying that it is a lack of faith, anything you ask. “Man, your faith is big enough to change his will.” So, in essence they are saying to not say according to your will. “You are a little god down here. Your will is what matters down here.” That is that egotistical and heretical type of attitude that is being taught by a large portion of Christianity, that type of nonsense. Jesus did not see that as something as a lack of faith, for saying, “not my will but yours be done.” but people who call themselves Christian do, but Jesus didn’t. Not my will but your will be done. So anything according to God’s will, He hears us and answers us.
I have often asked people, “Do you want your prayers answered or God’s will for your life?” Yet people will say, “If it is my desire and my heart and if it is my will it has to be God’s will.” That is how some thinking takes place.
We need to understand that when Jesus prayed and if Jesus said that everything he did and said was what he saw the Father do and He told me to say it, then the Father was literally the one who put this thought on his heart. The Father saw the agony of His Son. The Father in essence was having him to ask the question because the answer was already there. No, My Son, there is no other way. We know that. So you are going to go to the cross in accordance with My will and the totality of God.
When we live our lives here on this earth we want our own way. Everything the flesh wants is our own way. That is why we get mad at people because they do not do what I want them to do. That is why people leave their mates. They do not do what I wanted them to do. We are very, strong willed people. And it is very difficult for us many times to function on this earth in such a way to say, “I am not here to do my will. I am here to seek the will of the Father and to act accordingly. What does God want me to do?”
I am convinced that anyone that God calls into a ministry has committed himself to the provision of that person and that ministry in all ways. I think that God looks at that and says, “You are my child. As My child, I promised to provide everything you need for life and godliness.” I think that is a commitment from God, not us. That is why we do not have to sit around working and seeking and struggling and all of these things in our lives. God has promised to supply our needs. It is the difference between saying, “Lord, I do not know how many needs that I have. I have got a lot of greeds, but I do know that you are the one who is going to supply these things for me.” versus saying “I do not necessarily want what I want because what I want is not always good for me.” What our flesh desires is not always good for us. If you do not believe that, go to a cafeteria line. We develop this attitude of surrendering our right to always have your own way.
We also want to be right. That happens in marriage a lot. That is another thing of my own way. We think, “My way is the right way.” Those are always attitudes that cause conflict between people. When we really have an attitude of servitude, especially in marriage. “Here is a woman I want to serve in love the rest of my life.” To the woman, “There is a man I want to serve and love the rest of my life.” What do you desire? My will is not necessarily yours. Let us work together on these things. Marriage is not, “I am King Kong“ or “The purpose of marriage is to meet every one of my needs. I do not care what yours are. I am going to get mine.” That is not marriage.
Jesus’ attitude is this. “If it is possible, take this cup from me, but yet not my will but yours be done.”
The next passage in Luke 14:7-11 is on the attitudes of how we interact toward the body of Christ. We talked about our attitudes toward others’ mistakes, attitudes of surrender, attitudes of not having your own way. Now, the attitude of surrendering your right to always be noticed.
7 When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8 “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9 If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. 11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
I recall a story, as I think of this passage. Amy, who is my wife, in her life, after the war was over and she was in Germany, a very, very impoverished area, bombed out, as most of Germany was at that time. But the children were at least allowed to get out and play over there. The Americans now came in, the occupation. When a child sees an American in uniform, they just walk around and try to get some gum or something. They found that there was a bakery nearby. So the children would go out and pick a bouquet of flowers and go to the door with those flowers sticking out of their hands. The person would come out and laugh and give them a doughnut. Another thing that would happen, and would begin to learn when that would be. Maybe that GI was doing it illegally, I do not know. But they would open a crack in the door and stick out a plate. The children would run for that and grab the doughnuts off of that plate. Amy was very shy. So she never got up there. She always hung back and waited. One day that occurred. All the children would run up and grab those doughnuts and of course they were all gone. Then one day this guy comes by. She very shyly went up to him. He handed her two doughnuts. It was an example of that the least will be first. He saw that girl who was not pushy like the others and he provided for her. That to me is an example of the humility and what God will use in a humble heart, a spirit of humility.
I have seen in Christian circles, and for as long as I have been around, I have seen about all there is to see. But one of the things and you have seen some of that. We would go out to different conventions. You would see people who are in Christian work unbelievably pushy. I knew a lady who was a well known teacher who is about as pushy as anyone you can get. I do not want to be judgmental, but I am very observant. Pushing your way in and introducing ourselves and telling them how many seminars you taught. It is like you are your own public relations person. It is sickening to you to see someone pushing themselves as if we need to do that.
If God is in control and it is not my will but His be done, why do we need to go about advertising ourselves? That is the fleshly spirit that wants to be noticed saying, “I want to be in the top.”, “I want to be in all the meetings.”, or “I want my name published in Christian circles.”. All those things are so shallow. I have been there. I know what that is like but it is so so shallow. People try to get popular in things. All you are going to do is get popular in your own sphere of influence. They may know who Billy Graham is but that is about it. Our sphere of influence is our church life. You can get your name known among your little sphere, but how many people really know you. Big deal.
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