- “Preach the Gospel, die, and be forgotten.”—Count Zinzendorf
These are not the words of secular wisdom. These would not be taught in a self-help book or a Tony Robbins seminar. In fact, a life coach would cringe at the thought of not trying to build you up, of not motivating you to see your “inner strength and beauty”. And of course, everything we’re taught from Television, to music lyrics, to our educational system, and so forth, all point towards an exaltation of ourselves. We are being fed the lie that we are somebody!
But, the Christian in and of himself is a nobody. You and I are not special in and of ourselves. We don’t deserve anything but eternal death.
Remember how we discussed a few weeks ago about how the Roman slave was sometimes better off being a slave than being free? A person had more status in life, more recognition, more power, and more pride being a slave in Caesar’s household than being a free citizen. It wasn’t the slave that had anything special about himself/herself, but the one who was represented by that slave.
Likewise it is the same way with us. We are slaves whose lives in and of ourselves just don’t matter. However, we have the love of Jesus placed upon us, and He has redeemed us off the auction block. We now live to make Him known, to spread His fame, to lift Him up! Our whole identity and purpose in life is fulfilled in Him. That deep longing is fulfilled in Christ and we are no longer serving futile selves.
- “My faith rests not in what I am, or shall be, or feel, or know, but in what Christ is, in what He has done, and in what He is now doing for me.”—Charles Spurgeon
As Galatians 2:20 says:
- “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 up for me.”
Or, as the King James emphasizes, “Not I, but Christ”. It is all about Him. He is Who the world hates (John 15:18). He is Who I follow even if no one else is following Him. He is Who I give all my worship to. And He is the one that I find my identity in.
This is the message of John. The emphasis of this Gospel is that we might believe, but that message is accomplished by exalting Jesus and promoting His glory and deity to all. Similar to Genesis, the Gospel of John is about His sovereignty, His power, and His glory. It pours out of each page John’s account and should deeply influence who we are, how we think, and how we love Him. In fact, this is what having a high view of God is all about.
- I grew up near quite a few cemeteries. We had one at our little old country church with some ancient markers that were almost 200 years old. And some of the cemeteries in our community had tombstones dating to the 1700’s. Most of them had the person’s or family’s name, and maybe a nice little epitaph. But, once in awhile you’d find one with a Bible verse proclaiming that death had no rule over the deceased person (quotes from I. Corinthians 15). Others would occasionally proclaim the person as one who loved and served Jesus. When you die someday, what do you want your stone to say? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- In other words, will your tombstone just proclaim you are buried there, or will it proclaim that Christ is Whom you serve both on earth and in eternity? __________________________________
- When we lived in Virginia, there was a guy who had a big tattoo on the back of his shaved head (probably 3” high) that said simply, “JESUS”. While most of us would never get a tattoo of Jesus’ name on our heads, the real question is, is Jesus’ identity tattooed on your life? Does the world recognize Him in your life? Does the world see that you are sold out for Him above all else? __________________________________
- Does the light of Christ come forth in how you live, how you speak, how you act, dispelling the spiritual darkness of those around? ___________________________________________
- Do the lost recognize that something is different about you, even though you probably don’t wear a Christian fish symbol on your shirt, or carry a ginormous Bible everywhere you go? ___________________________________________________
- Do you realize that every psychological inferiority complex, or need for acceptance, or self-identity issue comes from identifying with the wrong god? ______________________________________________
- Hence, everythingwe need in life to feel secure, loved, complete, and valuable is found in Christ alone when He is our sole identity.
- Sometimes we think of the Gospel as only being the path to salvation. Yet, the Gospel is the meaning of our lives. It is the wretched sinner being saved unto holiness, righteousness, and good works. It is the enemy of God becoming a worshipper and servant of Him. It is the message of a life of glorious transformation. And it is the hopelessness of life being changed into the victory of Christ over this life as well as the one to come.
- Do you feel victorious most days? ________________________
- Do you struggle to feel that God really loves you? ___________________________________________________
- What is your biggest emotional defeat in life (that thing that gets you each and every time, and makes you feel worthless, or unloved)? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________
- Do you sometimes feel that all there is in life to look forward to is your eternal life? (that you are just struggling to endure this life on earth) ____________________________________________
- Read the following passages and note the encouragement that they hold for the believer:
- Psalm 38:15 ____________________________________
- Psalm 33:22 ____________________________________
- Psalm 42:5 _____________________________________
- Psalm 119:114 __________________________________
- Proverbs 10:28 __________________________________
- Acts 2:26-28 ____________________________________
- Romans 15:4 ____________________________________
- “If the Gospel we preach does not exalt God, magnify Christ, and humble man, it is not the Gospel.”—Steven Lawson