The Bare Soul
February 14, 2010
The Simple Gospel, Part I
The following is the message
text and audio recording of a sermon titled "The Simple Gospel" delivered to the
at the Kansas City Rescue Mission Chapel on February 11, 2010.
The Simple Gospel - February 11,
Titus 2:14 - Jesus Christ gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.
The gospel of Jesus Christ will never be about us. It has always been about Him and for Him. Christ's redemption was never meant to "bail us out" of our troubles. It was the expression of a Father's heart toward children in rebellion, that He might make us offspring in the exact likeness of His Son whom He sent to redeem the world. Hudson Taylor, missionary to China wrote poignantly about coming into a deeper understanding of what Christ had done in his own heart. He states: It was the exchanged life that had come to me -- the life that is indeed "No longer I"... It was a blessed reality "Christ liveth in me." And how great the difference! -- instead of bondage, liberty; instead of failure, quiet victories within; instead of fear and weakness, a restful sense of sufficiency in Another. Just as salvation or justification from sin was never for our ends but for "Another", so purification or sanctification is only for Him and for His glory. If we seek to keep salvation for ourselves and not share it, or to cloister ourselves away from life to keep from sinning, then we only strengthen our flesh and the selfish position of the "old man" that should now be crucified and done away with in Christ (Romans 6:6: Galatians 2:20). Paul lived and breathed a deep understanding of what he declared to his child in the faith, Titus, in our opening scripture. Paul understood that a profound knowledge of redemption plus God's sanctifying power equals a zealous desire to live for Him. This equation cannot be reversed or it simply will not work. One cannot say that through seemingly "good deeds" that one will purify one's self and then achieve redemption. This is humanly impossible and a fatal error if one attempts to change the order of salvation. An impenitent sinner will never embrace the idea that redemption can be afforded to them by anyone or anything other than by their own efforts. Conversely, a humbled man, woman, or child that knows they need redemption will never again look to their "works" to justify themselves. They understand they have committed high treason against the King of Heaven and without Jesus Christ as their Redeemer, they are lost.
An epiphany of the Lord's redemption is the catalyst that leads to the deeper life in Christ. Without a deep realization of what Christ did for humankind on Calvary's cross, there can be no deep cleansing or purging of body, soul, and spirit. The flesh will not submit otherwise. If someone has only a casual understanding that Christ died for their sin, then one might accept Him as one selling a bit of "fire" insurance. The fear of God has gripped them to the point where they are convicted of their sin as the penalty of eternal damnation. They choose to accept Christ for this assures them a place in eternity with Jesus and away from the tortuous flames. Beloved, if one stays in this frame of belief then they are truly playing by the precipice of decision and may or may not be saved by the "skin of their teeth". The fear of the Lord may be the thing that brings a man or woman to the Lord, but it has to be a love for Christ that keeps and perfects them (II Corinthians 7:1). While the fear of hell fire may be on a man's mind when he comes to Christ, the fire of purification best be in a man's heart to keep him in a position to grow in God. If we call ourselves Christians, and yet shrink from His purifying fire, we should question our position in Christ. For if we love Him, we will obey Him (I John 5:3), and to keep His commandments should not be a tiresome chore. If we see with eyes of gratitude, knowing that He has saved us not only from the fires of hell but also from the burdensome life we have created for ourselves outside of God's love, then we will embrace the flames of purification, leading to a sanctified life. Just as the gospel of redemption is not about us, neither is sanctification. It will never be so that we might proclaim our own "whiteness" and holiness to others. It is so we can have fellowship and walk in the light as He is in the light (I John 1:7). Only then will we begin to work the works of God (John 6:28-29) and lead others to the light even as the Lord Jesus demonstrated nearly two millennia ago.
The Simple Gospel of Jesus is further stated in John 5:19: Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. Jesus knew who He was. He was and has always been the Son of God. He didn't need redemption, because He is redemption. He didn't need purification because He is purity. Jesus could and would not do anything that He did not first see His Father doing. There was a conscious understanding of what the Father would or would not do because their Natures were totally united. In the same way, Christ has become to us redemption -- He has become to us purification and sanctification, allowing for His people to move within the very Nature of God in the same way as He moved in that of His Father's. Although He was perfect, Christ lived a life of obedience by continually learning a life of subjection to the Father (Hebrews 5:8). He suffered in His sinless flesh the pangs of temptation yet with perfect obedience. His perfect Spirit taught his earthly flesh how to come under the dominion of His Father, which created a lighted path for all to follow. Just as Jesus was "zealous for good deeds" through His sanctified life to His Father, so we too must walk in total surrender to Jesus. We should do only those things which we "see the Son doing". Once we submit to His life within, we can be assured that the works will be of heavenly origin.
Jesus desires for us to rest in His work that He has already accomplished (Hebrews 4:1). He desires for us to cry out until we come into such a revelation of His redemption that we are lovesick in heart and would follow Him anywhere. He further desires that we would stand and not shrink from the fires of purification He would bring into our lives. For truly, we are set apart and sanctified for His use. Only as we are holy vessels, cleansed for the Master's use, can we then go forth even as the Son shined upon this earth many centuries ago. We will then be redeemed, purified servants, zealous to go anywhere or to do anything for Him. This is the Simple Gospel. This is the Exchanged Life. Do you hear His call? He beckons all to come and to live as He lived for His Father, always eager to do His will.
Heavenly Father, give us eyes to see and ears to hear the great redemption You purchased long ago through Your Son's death. Help us Lord to stand in the midst of Your purifying fire, trusting and loving Your every desire. And then let us go forth with zeal to do your will. In Jesus' Name, Amen!
Your Barefoot Servant,
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