Summary: Pentecost 18(A) - Believers can live lives worthy of God’s gospel because they are united by faith to God and other believers. This unity leads to joyfulness in faithful, godly living.
LIVE LIVES WORTHY OF GOD’S GOSPEL (Outline)
September 30, 2007 -
PENTECOST 18 -
INTRO: Every day you and I and everyone else in this world make choices, value judgments. According to our standards we decide what is important or not important. We judge what is valuable or not so valuable. This is a fact of life. At times we use the age-old excuse of “I don’t have time” when we have judged something not to be worth our time or effort. Today’s text once again provides with a great comfort and encouragement in our daily living. The Lord God Almighty, our heavenly Father has judged that we are worthy of his time. In God’s eyes every soul is eternally important and valuable to him. As believers we have been given grace to see God’s great love for each one of us though we are, the worst of sinners. "But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life"(1 TIMOTHY 1:16). Our text reminds us of the believers’ response to God’s great love and free grace. We are moved to
LIVE LIVES WORTHY OF GOD’S GOSPEL.
We want to live lives worthy of God’s gospel because:
I. We are united by faith to God and believers, and; II. we are joyful in faith.
I. UNITED BY FAITH
A. The apostle Paul wrote this letter as hundreds of miles separated him from this congregation.
1. Paul was presently in Rome and in prison and in chains. Yet, here are words of confidence.
2. Paul’s earthly outcome was unknown. Whether life or death he was confident, verses 20b, 21.
B. Paul struggled with life and death. He had seen everything and longed to be in heaven, verse 22.
1. Paul wonders out loud for these believers his struggle, verse 23. Paul was torn.
2. Verse 24. The decision is made and Paul is to stay to encourage the believers.
C. Even in prison and in chains Paul was confident in his faith. He was united to Christ by faith
1. Paul also found great comfort and encouragement as he was united by faith to other believers.
2. Paul felt their prayers for him! Verse 19. His deliverance was assured – in living or by death.
D. As believers we live by faith and not by sight. This is what our heavenly Father wants us to remember in these verses. Our lives have been drastically changed by God’s grace. No longer do we sit in the dark. We are God’s children of light. No longer do we serve ourselves selfishly and without concern for our neighbor. We are united to God by faith. We want to live lives worthy of God’s gospel. This is done not by our own reason or strength. God-pleasing lives are possible solely by the power of God and God alone. "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me"(GALATIANS 2:20).
E. Paul pens these words as a prisoner who is separated from his Christian friends and family. Yet there is confidence in this prisoner alone in solitary confinement. First, Paul knows and believes that God has not forsaken him. Paul knows that his fellow believers also care for him. They are praying for him. This is the boldness and confidence we all have as believers in our Father who sent His Son to die in our place. "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need"(HEBREWS 4:16). NOTE: that we will “receive mercy and find grace” in our time of need. There is no mention of healing or blessing or deliverance (though God can and does provide them) here. Truly we need to receive God’s divine mercy and free grace!
F. It takes a journey and life of faith to have the same struggle that Paul describes here. Not too many who are young in age or in faith say “I have seen enough and done enough, I am ready to be in heaven”. Such a statement in longing for heaven seems to come with a mature faith. Many may even have some of the gray hairs of wisdom to change their love of earthly things into a longing for the heavenly. This is good that we live our lives here longing for the best that is yet to come. It does take faith. "We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it"(2 CORINTHIANS 5:8,9). While living here longing for heaven we still make it our goal to please him.