WHAT, THEN, SHALL I DO WITH JESUS? (Part 2)
Reading: John 18 verses 15-18, 25-27.
15 Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard, but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the servant-girl on duty there and brought Peter in.
‘You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?’ she asked Peter.
He replied, ‘I am not.’
It was cold, and the servants and officials stood round a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself.
25 Meanwhile, Simon Peter was still standing there warming himself. So they asked him, ‘You aren’t one of his disciples too, are you?’
He denied it, saying, ‘I am not.’
One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, ‘Didn’t I see you with him in the garden?’ Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a cock began to crow.
Have you seen the poster… If you were in court, accused of being a Christian (a disciple of Jesus Christ) would there be enough evidence to convict you?
- Simon Peter made a mess of things at the crucial moment when he was asked if he was a disciple of Jesus Christ
- We might be tempted to be critical…or even annoyed at his reaction
BUT WHAT OF YOU AND I?
- Would we even be asked the question: ‘Are you one of Jesus’ disciples‘?
- What might cause people to ask the question?
- What should characterise the true disciple of Jesus Christ?
WE ARE ONCE AGAIN FACED WITH THE ISSUE OF WHAT WE DECIDE TO DO WITH JESUS…
- Not just in a once for all decision…though this is an essential first step…but each step of the way throughout our lives
- How can we…how should we live to make it plain to everyone what we have decided to do with Jesus Christ in daily living?
Especially when the chips are down and the pressure is on
Another question… Is a disciple of Jesus Christ… someone who seeks to put Him first in their lives… characterised by a perfect life?
- The answer is yes and no!
- The Bible reminds us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God
- And there are none righteous…no, not one
God made us in His image but sin has scarred His perfect creation…
Imagine finding a fly in your soup! One blemish spoils everything else
- It’s not difficult to find examples of places in the world where there are terrible examples of wickedness
- And even if we are relatively ‘good’ (which most of us are) we know that deep within us there are times when our hearts are not seeking first God’s kingdom and righteousness
MEN: perhaps it’s lust, self-centredness, irritability
LADIES: perhaps it’s gossip, envy, deceit…
EVEN THE APOSTLE PAUL EXCLAIMED that when he should be doing good, he tended to do the exact opposite!
Wretched man that I am!
But how do we answer people who won’t accept that they have a problem
- After all, most of us lead pretty decent lives…
Not many of us commit the BIG sins…theft, cruelty, idolatry, debauchery (utter selfishness)
- However, some of us struggle with CHARACTER sins…bad temper, gossip, lack of self-control, bitterness
- And nearly all of us struggle with THOUGHT sins…not allowing every thought to be made captive to Christ
And all of us suffer from the BIGGEST sin of all… lack of faith/trust in God
- God knows about our failures and failings…and grieves…but He is even more concerned with how little faith we exercise…this, too, is sin.
THINK ABOUT IT… How much do we live by faith?
Example >>> Blondin crossing the Niagara Falls…who will volunteer?
But God provided a substitute for all our sin in Jesus
- He took our place so that we can be free from the penalty of all the wrong that we do
- And we have a choice…to accept thankfully what Christ has done for us… or to ignore it
- And as we accept fully what Christ has done, God the Father no longer looks upon our wretchedness but sees His perfect Son instead
The Bible describes this as being clothed in His righteousness
SO THERE IS A PARADOX… The lives of disciples of Jesus Christ are not perfect … that’s why Christ needed to die in our place…and yet because He died they ARE perfect in God’s sight
HOW CAN THIS BE?
We need to understand that there are two ‘states’ or conditions that run parallel in our lives…
1. Our eternal condition in Christ
- This is the time that we confess that we are sinners…that we need Jesus Christ…that He is the way to the Father
- So that God releases us from the prison of sin and gives us hope and a future and strength to endure whatever life throws at us
- We are safe for ever…nothing can pluck us out of God’s hand…although I believe that we might choose to go!
IN GOD’S SIGHT WE ARE PERFECT BECAUSE CHRIST IS SINLESS… and He has taken our punishment and borne our sins on the Cross.
- God no longer looks upon our sin but upon Christ’s perfect sacrifice
BUT THERE IS A SECOND, IMPORTANT DIMENSION … less often spoken of but very vital …
2. Our earthly condition in the flesh
It’s wonderful to know that we have a Saviour who has carried our sins and sorrows and made them His very own…so our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Hallelujah!
BUT WHAT NOW SHALL WE DO WITH JESUS?
- He is Saviour…but He desires more
- We could not save ourselves…we cannot save ourselves…but we can decide how we respond to our salvation
- God will not force His will upon us…He waits for us to respond
- And the devil also watches and waits…for our response
- And perhaps those around us watch and wait
The Holy Spirit is given to all who ask…but He will not force His way into our lives
- God is always ready to play His part…but we have a part to play also
- Not in our salvation…but in how we respond to God’s call upon our lives while we live
SO WE CAN BE PERFECT BY TRUSTING CHRIST FOR SALVATION…God sees only His perfection, as Christ’s atoning death blots out our sin
- But SINFUL too because in this life we choose to hold back areas of our life from the Spirit’s control
- TO BE CONFIDENT ABOUT OUR ETERNAL FUTURE and know that death is not the end is truly ‘Good News’…but eternity begins TODAY…in this life
- God the Holy Spirit waits to guide and bless us…and give His assurance and chastening…but we have to be in a position to receive it
IF WE WANT GOD’S BLESSING…HE OFFERS IT TO US…but we have a responsibility, too…
- To set aside some of the things that we want in life, to claim the things that God wants for us
- To turn our backs on the world’s trinkets…to possess God’s hidden treasure
- To be disciplined in our life style
- To obey God’s commands as best we can…and confess when we make a mess of things
- To be courageous and stand up for godly principles
THIS KIND OF ATTITUDE PUTS US IN THE RIGHT PLACE TO RECEIVE FROM GOD
Imagine standing in the cellar and complaining that we are not getting a sun tan!
Moses received the Commandments because he was up Mount Horeb
Hannah was blessed with a child because she spent time in fervent prayer in the temple
Elisha was mightily used by God because he refused to leave Elijah’s side
Europe was opened to the Gospel because the Apostle Paul obeyed God and went over to Macedonia
And more grimly…
Stephen caught a glimpse of heaven and Christ at the right hand of God because he stood firm, told the truth… and was stoned to death.
JESUS SAID THAT THOSE WHO DESIRE TO LEAD GODLY LIVES WILL BE PERSECUTED
- So godliness is no soft option
- The road is narrow…our responsibilities before Christ are serious ones
- We are not here merely to while away the hours until our death or the resurrection!
AND ANOTHER PARADOX… if we want to be used by God and grow more like Him, we have to grow weaker, not stronger…
- Weaker in as much as we acknowledge that although we are called to be workers in the fields of life, it is God who is the harvester
- Weaker in that when we begin to believe that we are actually a bit of a prize for God in His Kingdom (“Isn’t he lucky to have me!”)… things start to go wrong
- But when we understand that it really is true…Without me you can do nothing …and give God the glory for every blessing and step of progress… then amazing things begin to happen
JESUS SAID THAT WE SHOULD BE IN THE WORLD BUT NOT PART OF IT
- Involved in the fabric of society… but without compromising our faith
- Influencing people and events through prayer, contributions to discussion and showing example…but not sucked in to the ways of those who care not a jot about the Lord
OUR LIVES COUNT FOR SOMETHING…
- However ordinary you feel…or inadequate
- However much you have failed in the past…Christ wants you to finish well
- For people are watching and wondering
THERE IS A KEY PASSAGE THAT SHOULD BE AT THE HEART OF THE WAY WE LIVE OUR LIVES AS DISCIPLES OF JESUS CHRIST…
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other (Galatians 5)
QUITE A CHALLENGE!
There are two key phrases…
- Live by the Spirit
- Keep in step with the Spirit
To live by the Spirit is to open ourselves to God’s will for our lives
- By reading the Bible and praying
- Mixing with mature Christians
- Humbling ourselves before God
Because God promises that in return He will fulfil His part of the deal…
- To live within us…so that we have someone who sticks closer than a brother
- To comfort us when the chips are down and our world is upside-down
Though as someone has said, when our world is shaking, we turn to God for help, only to discover that He is doing the shaking!
- To inspire us and give us courage
But also…to rebuke us and discipline us when we stray…it’s all part of the deal
Come now, says the Lord, let us reason together, though your sins are red as scarlet they shall be as white as wool
We need to keep in step with the Spirit…
- We invite Him to reside in our hearts…we accept the terms…His terms and conditions…
- But we need to stay tuned to Him
But keeping in step requires two things from us…
- God provides the power by which we can overcome…but we need to make the first move and trust Him for the rest!
Sometime, God often immerses us in a situation even more to test how serious we are about sorting it out…and compels us to depend upon His grace and enabling
A young man went to the minister and asked him to pray that he might have patience. The minister agreed and started to pray:
Lord, please send this man trials and hardships. Bring him tribulation…
The young man interrupted: Excuse me, I don’t want you to pray that I have hardships and tribulation. I want patience.
The wise minister looked him in the eye:
Patience is only achieved through trial and tribulation.
Spiritual growth comes through discipline…if we don’t want to grow, we refuse God’s discipline.
b) Submission to His will
Listen to what the missionary husband of a murdered woman said after her death (see article)
Missionary CT Studd prayed, when zeal was flagging in the work in Africa Lord, revive Thy work, even if it mean Hell for me
SO…WHAT THEN SHALL WE DO WITH JESUS WHO IS CHRIST?
And what evidence will there be to convict us? Five things we can use as a spot check…
1) That Jesus Christ is so much at the heart of our lives that we will be salt and light in our situations…because He is salt and light to the world!
- For if Christ is not at the centre of our lives, who or what is?
- And without His presence we will not be salt and light
2) That Jesus Christ is so much at the heart of our lives that we see the hand of God in every situation…
- From the apparently trivial things like waking up in the morning… to the major events of life
- The world sees ‘chance’…we see God’s divine intervention
- The world sees hopelessness in a situation…we see God’s opportunity
- The world looks for someone to blame when ‘things go wrong’…we look for ways to praise God in every circumstance of life
Augustine said that the Christian should be an alleluia from head to foot!
3) That Jesus Christ is so much at the heart of our lives that we exude a positive attitude in all our dealings…
- Looking for the best in people and not constantly finding fault…
Fault-finding is a habit we fall into
- Bad habits are like a warm bed…easy fall into but difficult to get out of!
- True disciples of Jesus are encouragers…people go away feeling better having met them…because the love of Jesus Christ is communicated to them
4) That Jesus Christ is so much at the heart of our lives that we are free… yet bound
- We walk as free men and women…yet no-one has a stronger claim upon our lives than Jesus Christ
- No boss, neighbour, official, politician, celebrity, academic, ruffian …or family member can separate us from His love
- No situation, crisis, heartache, disappointment, confusion, wrong decision, foolishness…can reduce His love for us or create chains around our lives… unless we choose to allow them to.
If the Son shall make you free, you will be really free
- Free but also bound…it’s yet another paradox…the more we are held captive by Jesus Christ…the more we become free from the burden of sin or fear about what life can throw at us
5) That Jesus Christ is so much at the heart of our lives that we live with one eye on His return
- Christ will come when we least expect it…what will He find in your life and mine?
- Will He find you and I serving Him and one another…or taking the broad road that leads to destruction?
- Christ does not want us to leave Him at the door of the church as we shake hands with the preacher and go our way
WHAT THEN SHALL I DO WITH JESUS, WHO IS CALLED SAVIOUR?
This day…and every day of our lives