Summary: This sermon challenges us to look at the cross of Calvary and ask ourselves if we are honestly living and serving the way we should.
September 22, 2002
A. [Count Nicholaus von Zinzendorf]
Nicholaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf was born into one of Europe’s leading families in the year 1700, and he grew up in an atmosphere of prayer, Bible-reading, and hymn-singing.
He excelled in school, and seemed to posses all the qualities for national leadership.
After finishing his university studies at Wittenberg, Germany, Zinzendorf embarked on a grand tour of Europe, attending lectures and visiting museums, palaces, and universities.
It was while visiting the art museum at Dusseldorf that the young count had a deeply moving experience that stayed with him the rest of his life.
Seeing Domenico Feti’s Ecce Homo (“Behold the Man”), a portrait of the thorn-crowned Jesus, and reading the inscription below it—“I Did This For Thee! What Hast Thou Done For Me?”
Zinzendorf said to himself, “I have loved Him for a long time, but I have never actually done anything for Him.
From now on, I will do whatever He leads me to do.”
B. When you look at the cross, can you say that you are doing and living the way God intends for you to live?
1. Are you living the way you know you should or are you hoping that you’ve still got time to change?
2. Have you made peace with those you need to make peace with?
3. Have you told that loved one how much they mean to you?
4. Can you honestly say that you are fulfilling your duty God?
C. In the first verse of Acts 23, we see that the apostle Paul could honestly say that he was.
I. Fulfilled Duty
Acts 23:1 (NIV), Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, "My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day."
1. Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and told them that he had fulfilled his duty to God.
2. In the face of death, Paul told the Sanhedrin that he had done what God had called him to do.
B. …good conscience…
1. Paul also told the Sanhedrin that he had done this with a good conscience.
2. Of course this doesn’t mean that Paul had never done anything wrong and he is not saying that his conscience is his final judge.
3. But he was saying that he could honestly say that he had lived his life to the best of his ability.
4. It is possible that he may have sinned against God, but he had lived as sincerely as he possibly could.
5. He may have sinned, but he had made his peace with God.
C. …to this day.
1. Paul is saying, “Up to this day, I’ve fulfilled my duty to God.”
2. “Up to this day, I’ve live with a good conscience.”
3. But I want us to think for a moment about just what is our duty…
II. Whole Duty
Ecclesiastes 12:13 (NIV), Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
Ecclesiastes 12 (NIV), Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, "I find no pleasure in them"-- 2 before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark, and the clouds return after the rain; 3 when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men stoop, when the grinders cease because they are few, and those looking through the windows grow dim; 4 when the doors to the street are closed and the sound of grinding fades; when men rise up at the sound of birds, but all their songs grow faint; 5 when men are afraid of heights and of dangers in the streets; when the almond tree blossoms and the grasshopper drags himself along and desire no longer is stirred. Then man goes to his eternal home and mourners go about the streets. 6 Remember him--before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, or the wheel broken at the well, 7 and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. 8 "Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Everything is meaningless!" 9 Not only was the Teacher wise, but also he imparted knowledge to the people. He pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs. 10 The Teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true. 11 The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails--given by one Shepherd. 12 Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. 13 Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.