19 February 2018

A HEALTHY CHURCH IS THIS CONTINUED



Eph 4:1-6

Napoleon Bonaparte who was a man of humble beginnings, who went on to be a General, stated the following after making rounds about his different post and finding a soldier asleep at his post, “Soldier what is your name, the soldier replied, “My name is Napoleon, Bonaparte replied what did you say your name was, he responded the second time, Napoleon. Then Bonaparte stated, “Soldier my name is Napoleon, and Bonaparte said “I suggest that you either change your name or start living up to it.”

“Worthy” (Axios) means to balance the scales-what is on one side should be equal to the other. Our calling and our walk on this earth is a weighty calling because it’s attached to the only name under Heaven to which man must be saved. The common calling that we have in Christ unites us together through His death, resurrection and ascension, so we must recognize this divine nature that God called us too. We as a body share a common experience of His amazing grace. As Jesus said to His disciples “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” John 15:16

Here Paul gives us some very import essentials for faithful Christian living, important essentials to a healthy church. Essentials that are weighty and worthy in the Lord’s calling on your life.

 Humility

This involves God-awareness and person of Jesus Christ and His human perfection. In order to understand the great need of humility we first need to recognize our underlying pride that so easily gets in the way. Humility is a freedom from pride and arrogance; humbleness of mind; a modest estimate of one's own worth. It is a state of mind well pleasing to God; Jesus Christ brings humility into your life? As one theologian said “If I try to make myself as small as I can, I'll never become humble. Humility comes when I stand as tall as I can, and look at all of my strengths, and the reality about me, but I put myself alongside Jesus Christ. And it's there, when I humble myself before Him, and I stop being fooled about myself, and I stop being impressed with myself, that I begin to learn humility.” Andrew Murray the great puritan preacher said “Humility is perfect quietness of heart…” Humility is one of the highest graces and one of the hardest to attain.

Why? The opposite of humility is “self-exaltation”. Our culture screams from the tops of buildings that we should “Exalt yourself”, “Pamper yourself”, and “Think about yourself first, because you’ve earned it.” Humility on the other hand is being filled with God not self. The problem we face is that we think of ourselves to much and not of others. Tim Keller said “The essence of gospel humility is not thinking of myself or thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less.” Humility requires us to examine ourselves against the beauties and perfections of Christ and its humbling thing to realize the world doesn’t revolve around me and my glory. What’s more amazing is that despite my lack of humility at times and the great sin of pride that is before me That through all of that…. God still saved my wretched soul….”That’s humbling!” See, it’s looking at the example of our Lord Jesus Christ and learning from Him. As Jesus said “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matt 11:29
  
Gentleness

Now, this essential doesn’t mean we are to be timid; it involves being “mild –spirited” or “self-controlled.” This is better translated “meekness”........It’s an inward grace of the soul. It’s the temper of the Spirit in which we accept His dealing with us as good....without the arguing or resistance. Basically it’s a humble and gentle attitude that is patiently submissive in every situation of life....with the freedom or desire for revenge or retribution. James Boice said “It’s a person who is so much in control of himself that he is always angry at the right time and never angry at the wrong time.” A prime example of this is found in Moses “Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.” Num12:3. Moses had a humble, but gentle disposition when it came to conflict, compared to the rest of the Israelites. Despite his own notwithstanding imperfections


This same principle applies to you and me!! We are to have that same gentle spirit as Moses did....even in times of conflict! This essential attribute is in each and every called child of God through the gospel. We read in Gal 5:23-26 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Patience

This has to do with tolerance and longsuffering in your life today and tomorrow.
Enduring situations and putting up with difficult people is not easy. It’s the quality of putting up with others, even when one is severely frustrated. It’s that calm willingness to accept situations that may irritate you or cause you pain. The greatest example of patience is found in God with His creation!
“God is slow to anger” Ps 86:15

We always need to remind ourselves of this truth; that God is more patient with us then we deserve. Don’t miss this! He expects the same from me and you. The patient Christian accepts God’s plan for everything. Let me ask you! How are you doing with this essential truth for the church? Because love is patient and long-tempered. See, to have patience love we must endure annoyances and challenges over a period of time. Paul reminded the greatest church that ever lived this truth! (sarcasm added) In 1 Cor 13:4-7 we read this “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Is this easy? No, but with the Spirits power, we can and will do this. Paul is calling us to emulate our Lord’s patience by what Paul said to the church! Col 3:12-13 says “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.

Forbearing Love

This is very important because we know according to the scriptures “love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Pet 4:8. This is picture of throwing a blanket over the sins of others, not to justify or excuse them away, but to keep the sins from becoming a distraction to restoration, sanctification and growing together in grace.. Forbearing love could only be “Agape” love because only agape love gives continuously and unconditionally. Agape love is unqualified and unselfish as we have learned by the previous healthy attitudes for a healthy church. It’s a forbearing love that willingly gives whether they receive anything in return. It’s an invisible goodness and a love that even extends to our enemies and the ability to pray for our persecutors. As Jesus said “You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” Matt 5:43-44. Longsuffering is an expression of love and this should be marked in the church of Jesus Christ.

Eagerness

This is the idea of being diligent to preserve the unity in the church for the glory of God through the Sprit in the bond of peace. The ultimate outcome of the above essentials leads to this word “eagerness”

“An eagerness” or “to make haste” is where we get the meaning for zeal and diligence.

One commentator describes it as “a holy zeal that demands full dedication.” Paul used the same language to strengthen Timothy to leads God’s people. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” 2 Tim 2:15. This requires a passion and a zeal for God’s truth and God’s people. Preservation of unity should be the diligent and constant concern of every believer for the true family of God. The church is the only institution entrusted by God; with a message of: Repentance, and Believe in Jesus! Christ! The called out ones. The danger sometimes in the church is this… Kent Hughes said “pride and self-promoting arrogance sow disunity, but humble, gentle man or woman is like a caressing breeze.” To be a God centered; requires that we walk worthy of this calling in Christ. A God displaying church that glories in God’s character and the Truth of the Gospel. We as a church in today’s society need to do the same! We need to stand strong as a body, as the called out ones! To what seems contrary to the world’s philosophy of how to do church. Coca Cola is recognizable everywhere it is sold, regardless of what country it is sold in. People may not be able to tell at distance that we are a believer; however, as they get to know us there should be something distinct about us that set us apart. Emulating as ambassadors for Christ to a broken and lost world. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Cor 5:17-21

This letter that Paul wrote to the Corinthians was directed to all ChristiansNo matter their occupation - pastors, school teachers, personal trainers, garbage collectors, stock brokers, moms, police officers. Everyone. Everywhere. All the time. The work of an ambassador is incarnational. It’s a person regarded as embodying or exhibiting some quality, idea, or the like of another. Our actions, character, and words embody the king who isn't present. In the same way, the Apostle Paul teaches that God has called us all to function as His incarnational ambassadors. Everything we say and do have significance because of the King we represent here in our earthly bodies.


A healthy Church is this…….

A people devoted to Christ as Lord of our Lives.

A people who delight in His word as necessary food for daily life.

A people who meditate and memorize His precious Word as a joy and not a hindrance.

A people who want nothing more than to serve God with their whole heart.

A people who are available to serve one another, because we want to serve the Kingdom of God.

A people who have a desire to pray not just for themselves but for one another.

A people who want to share the good news of the Gospel with those who have not heard this good news.

A people who want nothing more than to embrace the Kingdom of God with a heart of humility, gentleness, patience, forbearing, with eagerness to glorify God as a body saved by sovereign grace.

It’s a weighty calling, it’s a worthy calling and we should never be sleeping on the job and not taking our position in Christ seriously as a church family. Because it might lead a devoted Christian to say “I suggest that you either change your name or start living up to it.”

12 February 2018

A HEALTH CHURCH IS THIS




Eph 4:1-6

When a person joins an organization, what that person is doing is required to live in accordance with the standards of the group.

For example:

The person accepts its aims.
The person accepts there objectives and standards as their own.
Just as Canadians we abide by the rule of law of our country.
An employee is obligated to work according to the rules, standards and purposes of the company.
Members of certain interest groups or clubs obligate themselves to promote the goals of the club and abide by its standards.
When you play hockey or some other sport you play by the rules and the plan the coach has set out for the team.

This is the standard to which we need to operate otherwise it would be cautious.

The natural man and woman have the desire to be accepted and to belong and many of us will take the necessary steps and disciplines to fit into that certain group or setting. Many people will even go to the extreme to not be rejected by a group. A prime example of this is found in John 9:18-23 “The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight and asked them, "Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?" His parents answered, "We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself." (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.) Therefore his parents said, "He is of age; ask him." Although these parents saw the glorious results of their son who was blind, who was healed by Jesus, they would not credit it to Jesus. They were more concerned about saving face then to glorify Jesus for healing their son. They did all this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders.

Why? The answer to explain these parents’ actions and the many during this time is found in John 12:42-43 “Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.” John 12:42-43. The last thing we were created for was to please man and to be accepted by man. When Christ grabbed you by the feet and pulled your dead corpse out of the deepest sea of sin and death you were brought into a relationship that not only transforms your life at the moment….. but forever.

Just as we have earthly obligations and some of them are good and some can be bad for various reasons.

God expects conformity within the church. This is a no brainier and it should be so obvious to us as if there was a pink elephant standing here on the platform behind me. Sadly though, when a person hears the word “conformity” some people immediately think their under some form of dictatorship and if they do not comply with the dictators rules and demands they might be put in prison or worse put to death for not conforming.

Now, I know that a little extreme and we would call this Nazi Germany; Marxism or the Liberal Government……this kind of conformity is bad and does not end well for people like you and me. But, there is a conformity that is good and it’s for our good and ultimately for God’s glory. Because this conformity leads to life and godliness and most of all blessings that have eternal implications. When you read the scriptures and you read the letters to the churches they’re not a bunch of forced legalistic set of external rules and regulations. It might seem that way on the surface if you read the scriptures in that manner as a set of rules and regulation. The downward spiral of this kind of thinking leads a person to a life of external, forced rules that are legalistic and only outward conformity. But remember what the LORD said to Samuel “….For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart." 1 Sam 16:7. Be careful Samuel this outward appearance can and is deceiving to the people of God and sadly fall prey to kind of thinking in the church age.

Remember what Jesus said about the religious elites? “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness." Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous,” Matt 23:27-29

As we’ve touched already the outward man and woman is dying and there is no stopping that age process, but the inward man or women is being renewed and strengthen day by day. Julie and I were talking about this on our way down to the Pastors/wives retreat about when we get older and become externally weak and our minds are not as strong as they are right now. We want our disposition in old age to honor God with nothing but praise and thanksgiving to our Lord and for what He has done in and through our lives. We do not want to be as we were in the outward because it’s ugly and not of Christ.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. (A couple I visited in the hospital, and a couple I visited in the home.) See, our deepest longing and desire for the Christian life is to have a deep rooted inner conformity and desire to… holiness, love, and the will of our Heavenly Father.

We see this truth here in the text before us this morning!

Look what Paul says after his prayer! (v1) “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,”

The conformity that the bible speaks of is an active faith that is obedient to what has already been displayed in our lives through the gospel.
  
What is that you ask?

I’m glad you asked…it’s found in the points that Paul has already touched on this far beginning in chapter one to the end of chapter three. (Summarize the first three chapters). These are the amazing theological realities that we get to savor and ponder in our hearts through the amazing grace of our God who gives to us abundantly. Knowing this wonderful truth and the blessing that is before us, 

Paul wants us to shift gears ….
From Biblical doctrine to responsibility.
From principles to exercise.
From the indicative to the imperative.
From exposition to exhortation.
From position to behavior
From high society and worldliness to high life and Christ glorified
  
And this life that Paul is calling us to may not be an easy one!  Why do I say that? Paul reminds us again that he is “a prisoner of the Lord” This indicates to us that the worthy Christian walk can be costly and Paul is letting us know that it has cost him considerably because of his obedience to the Lord.


Are you ready for that? This is an important question to answer because what Paul tells us next is pivotal to a healthy church. Look what he says with urgency “I urge, entreat or beseech you to walk worthy of calling to which you have been called.” It’s almost as if Paul is on his knees still from his prayer pleading with God’s children to take this life that God has given us through the gospel seriously; and walk in such a way the world stops and scratches their head in amazement. Paul makes no apology for pleading with the people to do what he knew was right. That’s why we see this word urge, entreat or beseech because it emphasizes a strong desire to do something for what is about to be said. Which is? “The calling to which you have been called”

“Called” here is referring to God’s effectual call on a sinner’s life. It’s referring to God’s sovereign call of His monergistic work in salvation. Monergism is a theological term in which the prefix "mono" means "one" and the suffix "ergism" (ergon) means "to work" together they mean, "the work of one", salvation is of the Lord alone, not a cooperation of man and God. The Trinity works in harmony to bring about the salvation of His elect. The Father elects us in Christ, the Son redeems the same, and the Holy Spirit applies regeneration to the all those the Father has given the Son. This effectual call and work of God is the reason why God can resurrect dead dry bones and give them life. 

We see this in the book of Ezekiel “The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" And I answered, "O Lord GOD, you know." Then he said to me, "Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the LORD." So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, "Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live." So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.” Eze 37:1-10

This calling is a high calling or as the scriptures say “a Heavenly calling” Heb 3:1 This calling is a “holy calling” 2 Tim 2:9. And this is why Paul says what he says here in this text, to remind us of God’s goodness. And also to remind us that the receptive Christian is determined to what? “press on towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Phil 3:14

How do we do that? Paul says “walk worthy” of this calling which indicates to us the importance to our daily conduct of life as God’s children. The word “worthy” is axios which has the root idea of “weight.” This word is where we get our English word axiom which means “to be of equal weight” 

John Piper said we are to “Act in a way that fits the great value and glorious nature of God and the gospel and your calling. And what fits with that great value? Faith. Above all things, faith and its fruit of love fits the worth of God and the gospel……Walking worthy of that favor means walking by faith, because faith is the one thing that agrees with our bankruptcy and God's infinite "worth." Looking to God's infinite worth for our help and satisfaction is "walking worthy of God."  Its living to match one’s position in Christ. Knowing that about Christs and what the Godhead did for us makes us sensitive to walk in which we have been called. Why? This calling came at such a high cost and in return we express our love for Christ by our walk of obedience and love to the Triune God.

Not out of forcible stubborn obedience, but out of love and adoration for the Savior and the grace of God in our lives. Here Paul gives us some very import essentials for faithful Christian living, important essentials to a healthy church. Essentials worthy in the Lord’s calling on your life. We will continue next week as we look at these essentials to a healthy church

So stay tuned!

04 February 2018

LOVE ROOTED BY INCOMPREHENSIBLE GRACE


Eph 3:17-21

A farmer planted two fruit trees on opposite sides of his property.  The one he planted to provide a hedge hide the unsightly view of an old landfill; the other to provide shade to rest under near a cool mountain stream which ran down beside his fields.  As the two trees grew, both produced began to flower and bear fruit.  One day the farmer decided to gather the fruit from the tree nearest his house " the one used to provide a hedge from the landfill.  As he brought the fruit inside the house, he noticed that it was a little deformed " the symmetry of the fruit was not very good, but still the fruit looked edible. Later that evening, while sitting on his porch the farmer took one of the pieces of fruit for a snack.  Biting into the fruit, he found it to be extremely bitter, and completely inedible.  Casting the fruit aside he looked across the field to the other tree over by the mountain stream.  After walking across the field, the farmer took a piece of the fruit from the other tree and bit into it.  Find the fruit to be sweet and delicious he gathered several more pieces of fruit and took them to the house.

The fruit was greatly affected by the nutrition of the root. Just as the tree grew by the landfill to be bitter, and the tree by the stream produced sweet fruit, so the Christian has a choice. He can either put down his roots into the soil of the landfill of fleshly pursuits, or into the cool refreshing stream of the person of Jesus Christ. We must understand that the root bears the fruit and the only way to truly bear fruit is through the work of Godhead in and through us. The fruit of the Christian is the outward evidence of the inward motivation that God is doing the work. Being made strong inwardly by God’s Spirit leads to Christ’s being at home in our hearts that produce delicious eatable fruit. That’s what makes God’s love so incomprehensible to the human mind or understanding. In our sin nature we don’t see it or understand it, but when Christ gets a hold of your life in the gospel we begin to understand this great mystery of love. (v18)

A love that is wide enough to embrace the world.

John 3:16 says “"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

A love that  is long enough to last forever.

1 Cor 13:8 says “Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

A love that is high enough to take sinners to Heaven.

1 John 3:1-2 says “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”

A love that is deep enough to take Christ to the very depths to reach the lowest sinner.

Phil 2:8 says “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
  
A W Tozer said this about the incomprehensible love of God “…Because God is self-existent, His love had no beginning, because He is eternal, His love can have no end, because He is infinite it has no limits, because He is holy it is the personification of all spotless purity, because He is immense, His love is an incomprehensibly vast, bottomless, shoreless sea…”
  
This is the love that Paul is praying about for the church and it should be the same list for us as we pray for one another. When Christ settles down in our lives He begins to display His own love in us and through us. Without the deep roots of Christ’s love in our hearts were are incapable of loving anyone or anything …….meaning by God’s standards. Paul prays that we “may have the strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth” (v18). What Paul is saying to us is that we take hold of these truths and to seize them for ourselves. Paul knows that this is impossible but he calls us to stretch out of our comfort zones and with some spiritual exercising. Why? Because it produces healthy fruit that is pleasing to a holy God who gives us the resources and abilities to love as Christ loved.

This is hard work considering the Christian life is not about introverted or individualistic imprisonment. We can only truly come to understanding this fully when we demonstrate this love of Christ “with all the saints.” We can only come to a better, fuller understanding of His love in community…..as a local body of believers! 
The best place where this starts is under the preaching of God’s Word.
This happens when we study the Word of God together.
This happens when we share our knowledge of God with others.
This happens when we observe it in our brothers and sister.

This happens when our hearts go upward in worship instead of horizontally and self-focused. We need each other in order to comprehend God’s word…that’s what makes up the church. BUT! In order to understand this love of Christ we must be first rooted and grounded in love. Establishing these roots on a solid foundation is based upon the love of Christ in our lives. This is the strongest foundation of love and these roots grow deep because they are connected to Christ and His love. The absence of love is the presence of sin. Because sin and love are enemies. The loveless love of a person is rooted in ungodliness. And godly life is serving, caring, tenderhearted, affectionate, self-giving, self-sacrificing life through Christ and His work in and through us. What do these deep roots of Christ love look like? 

We know the depth of someone’s love for us by what it costs Him.

With Jesus sacrificing His life for us, it assures us of deeper love than if he only sacrifices a few bumps and bruises…this wouldn’t seem like much of a cost. The bible says “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5
  
We know the depth of someone's love for us by how little we deserve it.


Paul penned these words to remind us “and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die, but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:5-8 

We know the depth of someone's love for us by the freedom with which they love us.


If a person does good things for us because someone is making him, when he doesn't really want to, then we don't think the love is very deep. Jesus said “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father." The Hebrew writer explains this sacrificial love “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb 12:2

What does that love look like so that you and I can understand this side of God’s incomprehensible love? 

There is a story I came across about a group of American prisoners of war during the Second World War, who were made to do hard labor in a prison camp. Each had a shovel and would dig all day, then come in and give an account of his tool in the evening. One evening 20 prisoners were lined up by the guard and the shovels were counted. The guard counted nineteen shovels and turned in rage on the 20 prisoners demanding to know which one did not bring his shovel back. No one responded. The guard took out his gun and said that he would shoot five men if the guilty prisoner did not step forward. After a moment of tense silence, a 19-year-old soldier stepped forward with his head bowed down. The guard grabbed him, took him to the side and shot him in the head, and turned to warn the others that they better be more careful than he was. When he left, the men counted the shovels and there were 20. The guard had miscounted. And the boy had given his life for his friends.

The question was asked where I found this story! Can you imagine the emotions that must have filled their hearts as they knelt down over his body?

Think about it Church family! In the five or ten seconds of silence, the boy had weighed his whole future in the balance, a future wife, an education, a new truck, children, a career, fishing with his dad—and he chose death so that others might live.

This is exactly what Christ did on our behalf! Jesus said “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full." This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:9-13

This is what it means to know the love of Christ! As Paul says “to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge…” (v19) This is somewhat confusing language because it’s impossible to know what is beyond knowledge. That being said though! We can experience it through our own lives as He grabs you from Hells doors and calls you His own. This knowing is not just of intellectual knowledge as you would learn in a classroom setting. Paul is referring to the whole package of God’s incomprehensible grace. What did you experienced in the heart when you were captivated the moment Christ took a hold of your life and never has let go and never will through the knowledge of His word? Scottish reformer Samuel Rutherford wrote this from a prison cell “Love, love (I mean Christ’s love), is the hottest coal that ever I felt. Oh, but the smoke of it be hot! Cast all the salt sea on it, it will flame; Hell cannot quench it; many, many waters will not quench love.”

It’s the idea…. If you haven’t experience this love, no words will do. For those of us who have experienced this, no words will quite do. What does Paul mean when he says “the fullness of God” (v19b) There is no way this side of Heaven we will fully understand or grasp this knowledge of God. To help us understand the fullness of God we need to ponder and reflex upon His attributes the things that God does outside of time and space to reveal His glories. The word “Full” speaks of total dominance, For example…. A person who is filled with rage is totally dominated by hatred. A person filled with happiness is totally dominated by joy. To be fill up to all the fullness of God means total dominance of one’s life that is hidden in Christ. All our desires and aspiration should be centered on Christ for our lives, not the other way around. In a nut shell or the Coles Notes this means “The divine love of God is totally dominated by the Lord with nothing left of self.” And the beauty of this is that God’s supply is abundant, unlimited and far beyond our comprehension. Look at (v20) “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,” We can only comprehend a portion of this when we have a high view of God and His amazing grace.

God is able…..
Able to do
Able to do what we ask.
Able to what we think
Able to do and ask or think
Able to do all that we ask or think
Able to above all that we ask or think
Able to do abundantly above all that we ask or think.
Able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask and think.

The means by which God answers prayer is given in the expression “according to His power that works in us.” That is only found when we rest in Christ and when we reflect upon… How wide, how deep, how long and how wide His love is for us and that is only found in the gospel. We need to seriously pray for each other this prayer as a church family….So that as a family, we understand, taste the riches that flowed from Calvary so that we can love and serve one another with the glory of God. Why? As we talked about a couple of weeks ago…. The Heavens are watching and the angels are leaning in to see and observe what this incomprehensible love looks like in the life of a sinner. Peter wrote “Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.” 1 Peter 1:10-12