Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Gospel-Powered Life, part 2

"I have been crucified with Christ;
and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;
and the life which I now live in the flesh
I live by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me 
and gave Himself for me."
Galatians 2:20

Gospel specifics this morning...

1.  The incarnation
  • What does the truth that Almighty Creator God put on flesh and became human mean to you?  If the image of Thor comes to mind, a Greek god who looks like a man but doesn't operate within human boundaries, then you've got it wrong.  Travel back in time to Bethlehem and take a look at what's lying in the manger - a bouncing, baby boy, fully human yet fully God.  God chose to become what He had created - He was hungry, He was rained on, He got tired, He travelled by foot, He accepted food from strangers, He even cried.  Does His humanity affect your daily routine?  Or in your mind, does God exist in a heavenly realm, unaware of the little battles you face because He is God and you are man?  That brings me to the second point...
2.  The sinless life
  • Jesus not only put on flesh but He was tempted and tried and limited just like we are.  He had to submit to government and He knew the Tempter's snares well.  He felt desperation and hunger and loneliness.  And yet through it all He never sinned.  He never chose to give into His flesh and respond in any matter other than through the will of His Father.  He set His eyes on eternity and lived His life without hypocrisy.  It's not that He was perfect so He can't relate to what we are going through.  He chose perfection and can perfectly relate.  Hebrews 4:15 says, "For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin."  Does His perfection offer us anything in our daily walk?  Is it possible that not only did He exchange His perfection for our imperfection, but He also lived a life so that we would have someone to imitate, to follow, to emulate?  Why do we choose Hollywood stars or athletes to imitate rather than God Himself?
3.  The death
  • The cross was miserable, friends, but many died on crosses throughout history. The good news of Jesus death was His substitutionary atonement. He traded identities with us on the cross. The judgment we deserved He took upon Himself and bore the wrath of God for our sin, all the while trading identities with us, giving us His righteousness.  Jesus chose to take our punishment.  There was a great spiritual suffering that took place on the cross, while humans stood and witnessed what they thought was a simple human death.  There was nothing simple about it.  There is a song that says, "I'll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon the cross..."  We won't know the cost because we don't have to pay it.  Jesus paid it.  He saw our sin on the cross, He took it upon Himself and then He humbled Himself before His Father and took the beating, no more than that - He took the spiritual death for us that comes with judgment.  I don't fully understand it, but that's another blessing of the gospel - He took my place so that I wouldn't have to pay.  Jesus in my place.  What does this truth do for you this morning? Anything?  Does it give you a different perspective on choices you make or how you spend your time or whether or not you crack open your Bible today?
4.  The resurrection
  • Our God is not dead.  Our God faced death and defeated death. Not just spiritually but physically.  Truth.  Plain and though not really simple, it is just that simple. The grave could not hold Jesus, spiritually or physically. Does that mean anything to you today?  As I write this, a woman in my church is having surgery. Do you think the resurrection of Jesus Christ could bring her comfort in her time of fear and despair?  What about you?  How does the resurrection of Jesus Christ - how does the fact that He is not buried somewhere in Israel affect how you live today?  Is this a power source in your life or do you live like your God is dead?
5.  The ascension
  • As I wrote earlier, Jesus now intercedes for us beside His Father.  He is our High Priest.  He knows what life in the flesh is like. He took our place. He loves us that much.  And now He sits at His Father's right hand and is an advocate for us - each and every one of His children.  This has a huge impact on us - is God uninvolved?  Is He unaware?  The Bible tells us He's not only involved, He's totally invested because of the high price He paid.  Doesn't that make sense?  Would you pay the highest price ever for something and then set it on a high shelf, never to use it, look at it or enjoy it again?  I think not.  What does the fact, the truth, that Jesus not only rose from the dead but ascended into heaven mean for you today?  
Herein lies that power source, friends.  Jesus said, "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever, that is the Spirit of Truth..."  Jesus asked that the Father send the Holy Spirit after His ascension and the Father concurred.  Now, upon salvation, we have the Spirit of God living within us, leading us, guiding us, convicting and comforting us.  What a power source! 

And yet so many of us live as if we have no Spirit...

Munch on these truths for a while and we'll continue with this soon...

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