Thursday, September 19, 2013
Sentence of Death
2Corinthians 1:9 - Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead...
A sentence of death. This was the gist of Pastor Terry Eddings' message Tuesday night at our church's ministers conference. Although ministers preach to build up the body of other ministers, the congregation is blessed by the words also. The Word of God is always for all people's edification and conviction, that we might become the men and women of God He desires us to be.
When we come to Christ we are called to this sentence of death that we might see how we are transformed, raised from the earthly death to spiritual life through Christ alone. This death must be the basis of our life, dying to self at all times. Look at Jesus. It was never about what He could gain from others. He was only about His Father's business helping others. His ministry was to heal broken bodies, minds and spirits that they should live. Entering into relationship with Jesus does that. He was called to be a Servant to all and His death on the cross was proof of this.
Imagine the magnitude of all this! Christ calls us into relationship with Him! We may think we've searched for Him (found God) or we believe we've known Him through our attending church, but it is He who ultimately draws us into a closer, more real relationship. When we heed His call and choose to follow He takes our sorry lives lived in the death of this world and raises us to spiritual life, just as He was raised to life after His physical death. Hallelujah! What a privilege to be counted as one who has been raised from the dead along with Christ.
But it also means dying to our old self and allowing the work of the Spirit to transform us into the image of Christ: But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2Corinthians 3:18). As you can see in the scripture it doesn't happen immediately...are being transformed...it's a lifelong process.
As Pastor E. suggested...it's not about our earthly lives and the status we attain or political affiliation or patriotism anymore. It's about a life lived in Jesus Christ. If we have our hearts set on Him we are set for life! All other things in life are meaningless, in the grand scheme of things. Paul said he counted all loss for the knowledge of Christ. (Philippians 3:18). Loss...death. In order to gain life in Christ we must experience this death. And this death is a grand death with the experience even grander.
But even this death comes with time. He asked us all if we are truly dead enough? Are pastors dead enough to not be afraid to preach the truth about hell and damnation, God's judgment, rather than just His love. Coming to Christ is more than an ooey gooey, wonderful experience. There are demands, which sometimes we don't want to hear about. Jesus' words can be very convicting. But they are hard because He loves us. He displayed tough love and we are subject to that too.
Coming to Christ is about doing God's will, not our own. (Colossians 1:24) The death we experience will be glorious (2Corinthians 3:18). If we are truly following Him and allowing the Holy Spirit to work in us, the more we go to that mirror, the more we should see a change. The image will become clearer and clearer. And it should be a glorious reflection.
Do I have a ways to go? You know I do. Am I exactly where I need to be spiritually for Him to use me? Probably not...yet. I know I have a ways to go. We must be flexible in our lives and allow the Spirit to guide us. He may take us from one place to another at a moment's notice. Pastor E. told a story about how he was enjoying a time of celebrating the 4th of July with family when he was called by a burdened member of his congregation. He had to drop the celebration to minister to the troubled congregant. That's what we are to do. Be ready in season and out not just to preach the gospel but lend a hand, offer a prayer, be a servant. How are we doing? I know I need work!
Reading further in 2Corinthians 4 it says that our message to others may be veiled but that veil is there because they are blinded to the words...either they choose not to see or or hear, as I learned earlier this week...and when we reject the truth enough, God will harden our hearts to this truth.
But Pastor E. had these encouraging words: just as Jesus raised a four-day dead, smelly Lazarus from the grave, Jesus can bring anyone today out of the same death. There is always that hope if one is open to receiving Christ and losing their natural life for a spiritual one.
John 11:25-26 - Jesus said..., “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”