Thursday, June 23, 2011
In this passage, Paul lays out these three benefits that every Christian has in Christ: as you trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation as He is offered in the gospel, you receive the benefit of justification, the benefit of sanctification, whereby the Spirit more and more makes you to be like Christ, and one day the fullness of perfection in glorification, when all sin is banished from you. And in your body you will see the glory of the Lord, and you will commune with the risen and ascended and reigning Lord Jesus Christ forever and ever.
This passage helps explains the gospel to us so that we understand and embrace it more deeply and tells us how we go about sharing the gospel with others.
This world thinks that religion – and all things – is simply a means to an end, to help us get what we want. That is not the gospel. This passage helps us understand just how radical and comprehensive the gospel is, and it will help us to share the gospel with a world that is not only confused about the way of salvation, but about the greatest treasure in life.
Sometimes when we are sharing the gospel, or preparing to share the gospel with someone, we think that people’s fundamental problem is that they are seeking the right thing in the wrong way. For instance, we may think that they’re seeking God, seeking heaven, but their problem is they’re seeking it by their own works and they need instead to seek it by grace, to seek it by faith. But the truth is, people are not seeking heaven or God, because they’re seeking their own pleasures and self. If we try to approach folks as if they’re seeking the right thing in the wrong way, we will miss how deep their problem is and how glorious the gospel is.
What’s your ultimate goal, what’s your end, what’s your purpose in life? Paul in this passage says it’s to - in the resurrected body - stand and see the Lord of glory with his own eyes, ruling and reigning and publicly acknowledged to be the king of the world, and fellowshipping with Him, knowing the Lord Jesus Christ.
And that’s not what the world is aiming for. But Paul shows you how to share the gospel with those types of folks.
Paul’s ultimate goal is to be raised again from the dead, so that in his body – body and spirit together – he is standing justified on the Last Day in order to gain Christ! Jesus is not just his ticket to get something else, Jesus is the thing that means more to Paul than everything that he has lost; the thing which is more valuable than everything in this world is Christ himself. Jesus is God’s provided means whereby Paul experiences the ultimate reason for his being created: that is, to be in face to face communion with the living God through Jesus Christ, in his own body.
To see God has been the hope of believers in all ages, but we cannot, and the reason we can’t see God is because we’re sinners, and God is too pure to dwell in the presence of sin, and sin cannot abide Him. Moses’ earnest desire was to see God’s glory, but he couldn’t because he’s a sinner. But there will be a day when sin will be purged from us.
Job says in Job 19, “Though worms destroy my body, yet in my flesh I will see God with these eyes, and not another.” Paul’s saying the same thing here: “I want to attain to the resurrection of the dead so that in a perfected body, my soul and body together, I will see the king of glory, see Him reigning; and I know Him, and I commune with Him, and I’m found in Him, and I gain Him, and I fellowship with Him. That’s my desire.
As Christians, Jesus is our treasure, and that’s one way that we distinguish the gospel that we’re preaching from what the world around us hears so often from people claiming the name of Jesus Christ. Those people hear those preachers say Jesus is your ticket to get what you already want. What you already want is more: more stuff…more pleasure in sin…more self…more of your own ambition.
That’s hardly a radical message, it’s simply taking worldly desires and plugging in Jesus as the means. That’s a worthless system. The world looks at that and says, ‘I can get all that without Jesus. What’s radical about the gospel?’
The gospel, however, is a radical message because, when you are down in the desolation and you’ve lost the things that are dearest to you, and you still stand up and you say, “It is well with my soul, because all these things you can take from me, but you can’t take Jesus! You can take everything away from me…you can take my life from me, but you cannot take Jesus from me, because when I was saved I was justified and sanctified, and I will be glorified, and in this body and with these eyes I will see Him. Because He’s not just my ticket, He’s my treasure.”
That’s how we can handle every heartache and loss, because, it was worth it to see God in glory, when finally He’s getting the glory due His name! And if that’s not what you’re hoping for, let me say this: If you will come to Jesus, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and trust in Him, He will give you rest.
Posted by Ligon Duncan at 10:39 AM