Summary: How can we begin to taste the close relationship we will have with God in heaven now?
Yoked to Jesus Christ
1. One woman relates this story:
Early one morning, my husband, who works in a funeral home, woke me, complaining of severe abdominal pains. We rushed to the emergency room, where tests were performed to determine the source of the pain.
My husband decided not to have me call in sick for him until we knew what was wrong. When the results came back, the nurse informed us that, true to our suspicions, he was suffering from a kidney stone.
I turned to my husband and asked, "Would you like me to call the funeral home now?"
With a scornful look, the nurse turned to me and snapped, "Honey, he’s not that sick!"
(source: Pulpit Helps)
2. You and I likewise suffer from spiritual ailments. Some of you, who do not know Christ, you are "that sick!" That’s why you need to be saved.
3. The rest of us, who are saved, our struggle is to draw near to God and stay there! We want a deeper relationship with God, one through which we can interpret life and direct our lives.
Main Idea: How can we begin to taste the close relationship we will have with God in heaven now?
TS--- Paul presents us with a simple set of directions for doing just that.
I. Throw Away WORKS Righteousness (4-9)
--any residue thoughts you have about finding acceptance with God on the basis of personal merit must go---
1. If anyone thought he could IMPRESS God, it was Paul (4-6)
1. he had the seal of circumcision
2. he was from one of the most respected tribes, Benjamin
3. he was brought up speaking Hebrew (vs. Hellenistic)
4. he belonged to the strict order of Pharisees
5. he was zealous, persecuting the church
6. he had lived a blameless life as far as the Law went (sinned, but atoned)
7. The false Judaizing teachers were not as devoutly Jewish as Paul had been…
2 . He counted all his achievements as WORTHLESS (7-8)
• [According to a recent poll] 88% of Catholics and a majority of Presbyterian and Methodist evangelizers [those who actively try to share their "faith"] believe that "if people are generally good, or do enough good things for others during their lives, they will earn a place in heaven."
National & International Religion Report, August 23, 1993.
3. He traded in his flawed righteousness for GOD’S righteousness (9)
Is. 64:6, "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away."
1. The SOURCE of this righteousness is God Himself
2. It comes through FAITH in Christ
3. Pictured as a WHITE GARMENT that covers us
4. There is a big difference between good works that flow from a relationship to God and doing good works in an attempt to earn such a relationship.
II. YOKE Yourself to Jesus Christ (10)
This is Paul’s thinking at the point of his conversion, when his entire Chrsitian life was ahead of him…it expresses the reason why he gave all the above up (his purpose)
Jesus’ invitation in Matt. 11:29: "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."
What does it mean to take that yoke?
A. Know Him EXPERIENTALLY
• every event in life presents an opportunity to include Christ, to know Him
• every struggle can be transformed into deepening the life I live with Jesus…
Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote:
Earth’s crammed with Heaven
And every common bush afire with God
But only he who sees takes off his shoes—
The rest sit around and pluck blackberries.
(quoted in The Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortberg, p. 21)
B. Know His Resurrection POWER
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1. Too many times we focus upon SIN MANAGEMENT
2. It is through cultivating our WALK (daily training) with Christ that we experience His power
C. Know the Fellowship of His SUFFERINGS
• The role of suffering is crucial when it comes to knowing Christ. When we suffer, we have something in common with Christ (fellowship). Although only a mad man would seek suffering, through suffering our relationship with God can deepen
• Taking up the cross means a willingness to suffer hardship for Him
• A bird had no interest in learning the song its master wanted to teach it while its cage was full of light. Its master covered the cage to darken it. He then whistled the same song over and over until the bird learned it by heart. When it could repeat it note for note, the owner uncovered the cage and the bird sang it beautifully. This is an illustration of the way God sometimes deals with us. He darkens the cage of our lives in order to teach us some divine song.