Scripture:  Matthew 20:20 – 28

Is There More?

A.  When good doesn’t cut it.

      1.  A respectable request
      2.  When “good” is not “God” 

B.  A Matter of Perspective

      1.  Living to be blessed?
      2. Blessed so go live

C.  In Christ Alone

    1.  Identity Crisis
    2.  A life in Christ

 Introduction –

Our Christian walk is like my golf bag.  I call myself a golfer even though I have not earned one cent from playing.  In my bag are 19 clubs.  You are only supposed to have 13.  I have clubs that have never touched a ball.  I think they are called “irons.”  I have a 9 wood, and other various clubs to make my game better.  I have various types of balls that are supposed to prevent a slice, spin better and go farther.  Regardless of how I play, the truth is along with most average golfers is that we only need 5 to 6 clubs.  That’s right.  We will shoot the same score with our 6 clubs as we would with our 19 clubs.  Our golf bag is full of things that are supposed to make us better golfers but they don’t.  But, we sure think they make us better golfers.

That is our Christian walk.  Just like our salvation, sanctification (the long walk to glory) is founded in Christ alone.  We add so much to it.  Many of those things are good, but, they do not add to my faith one iota.  The only thing that matters is the worship of Christ. 

Review of context
  In the preceding verses, Jesus declares his gospel a 3rd time.
  James, John and the mom (very possibly Jesus’ aunt) ask for a special place in the kingdom.
  Jesus says it is not his call but that they will suffer. 
   He establishes that for glory with him one must share in his suffering (Phil 3:10)
  The disciples get mad.
  Jesus explains a new kingdom pattern.
      Greatness is in serving
      To be first…you must be last.
      Serve – giving your life away.

A.  When good doesn’t cut it.
      Regardless of our view, this is a noble request.
      A mom is looking out for her children.
      If it is Jesus’ aunt, she may also be looking out   for the family.
      It also looks like they get the idea of a new kingdom.  At least they are listening to Jesus.

      There is obvious issues in that mom had to make the request and the grown boys were still holding on to her hem.
      There are obvious issues since we are getting down to the final days of 3 year training and somehow, they still don’t quite get it.

      On a side note…Jesus does not get frustrated with them…he handles them with great grace and love.  He knows the gospel is a process.
He knows that there is not to be judgment at any specific time in our walk with Christ since it is a process not an end result.

Regardless, this “good” act is not “God.”.
    The Zebedee family has the same issues we have.
    They are not hearing the centricity of the gospel.
    They are adding to it.
    They are adding personal preference.
    They are adding a thirst for position.
    They are adding a personal comfort.
    They are also implying that due to their status (family or group) they are better and deserve it.
    The mom is actually kneeling ( a form of worship and respect) to Jesus but her worship is focused on men not the gospel of Christ.

Bottom line: Sola Christo
        Christ alone is not their life pattern at this time
        They along with us have the natural tendency to place themselves into the center of the circle.
          While good may be the motive…good is not the gospel.

William Hendrickson, theologian and author wrote “It is a simple matter of childlike faith in God coupled with loving service to men for the sake of the gospel.

B.  It is a matter of perspective.

Is Christ the focal point of Biblical living or am I.

I am reading a book titled CRAZY LOVE by Francis Chan.  It is one of the best sellers in evangelical Christianity today.  It is one of the worst books I have read.

Why?

The entire emphasis is on man.  In chapter 5 Chan says that mediocre Christians cannot be real Christians.  What?  Since when is the gospel of grace been replaced with a gospel of perfection and expectation?

That is just it.  Modern Christianity has made its rules and judgments about what a Christian does.  Instead the Scriptures teach that it is what Christ does through us.  It is the work of Christ that should get the attention.  It is the focus to be on Christ and Christ alone, not my response.  That is in the hands of the Holy Spirit under the Sovereignty of God. 

My Christian walk is not about my love response.  IT is about a love that has already been expressed in the cross.  My walk is the response to the cross.  It is a matter of my heart. 

There are two dominant and opposing biblical/life views that affect our walk and relationship with Christ and others.

1.  Are we living to be blessed

Or

2.  Are we blessed so go live.

It does not sound like a major issue but it is.  In one Christ is the soul purpose of life.  In the other I am in the center and I am trying to wrap myself with Christ to prove I am a Christian and thus get something we call a blessing. 

I am speaking of a Biblical mindset call Blessability Theology.

Blessability Theology is a view that the sanctifying work or otherwise known as our daily walk is an attempt to clean ourselves up, adopt certain standards of acceptable moral behavior and adopt Biblical habits to gain a blessing from God which is usually applied to our income, health, attitude, personality and anything else that we view as being Godly.
The focal point is what I determine to do to make God so happy that he shines blessings on me.

Be careful…each one of us has had a moment or moments where we adopt that functional theology and quickly leave the gospel.

The result is often:
A judgmental spirit – if I am blessed there must be something wrong with you. 
A false sense of spirituality – my blessing means I have arrived.
Imprisonment by guilt – when I don’t make it to the blessing stage, it must be my sin. 
Inability to move out of constant failure – my sin is constant.  I cannot make it to be blessed.  I quit.

Grace is left out of the picture.

As I refer to the Westminster Confession of Faith, which is our Bible primer I read the following on sanctification.

Refer to Westminster Confession of Faith (Sanctification)

There is no reference to my particular behavior.

The emphasis is on the work of Christ for me.

That is the heart change that is to bring real change.  It is one that relies only on the work of the Holy Spirit to bring about real change instead of religiosity.  It is also the foundation of grace that is to be applied in our lives as we relate to one another and the world.

Did you catch the process in the defining articles of sanctification.  It talks about a process.
We have adopted the Western mindset where it so easy to look at a person right now and only deal with that person in light of this exact moment in time instead of seeing a work in progress.  When we only see our spouse, our children, our neighbor as a finished work, grace disappears and imprisonment begins.

Our biggest issue in gospel focus, living, evangelsim is our individualism.

When we for various reasons are not known nor care to know, we are forced to live by gospel snip its instead of the fullness of the application of grace.  Yet, it is clear in the Scriptures, Christ came to give us freedom and set the prisoners free.   Grace functions not in the arena of isolation but rather moves the heart when we do exactly what Jesus refers to here as serving. 

Serving without knowing is good works.  Serving to know and extend grace at the heart level is only done by knowing.

This is the issue in broken homes, broken kids, broken family relationships, and broken communities.  Grace must have an arena that exposes God as the lover of our souls not because we are morally good but rather when we are fallen, failures, and dependent upon his grace.

We spend too much time talking about behavior instead of talking about Christ.

Why is it that Paul spends 2 to 3 times the amount of time writing about Christ and less time writing about our behavior, yet, we spend 2 to 3 times the amount of time talking about behavior and less time talking about Christ?
We spend too much time trying to fix our issues instead of worshipping God and living to see what he is going to do to receive the glory due his name.

When our heart is driven to glorify God instead of chasing some sort of self made righteousness…our lives will change.

2.  That leads us to the 2nd and accurate Biblical view of our walk in Christ.

It is based on the already blessed…so go live.

Ephesians 1:3
  We have already received every spiritual blessing.

Bingo!  Christ established a heavenly, spiritual kingdom.  The blessing is no longer on earth.  This is not our home.  It is a spiritual blessing.  Christ is that spiritual blessing.  We already have it.  There is no living to be blessed.  We are blessed, so go live!

Paul constantly is teaching what Jesus was saying to the Zebeedee family.  This is a new kingdom, and it is different.  It is based in me and it is spiritual.

We have a hard time understanding that:

When we are his children, the new kingdom of Christ affects our life. Our life does not affect the kingdom.

The Christian life is already about the spiritual kingdom.  We have what was to be given.
Thus it has been said…if you are a true child of Christ…you can do nothing more to increase his love and you can do nothing less to separate you from his love.
Just the fact that you are a child of God is the blessing.
Since Christ and Christ alone has done the work and continues to do a work even when you don’t feel it, now, go live a life based on Christ not seeking to gain favor.

How than do we live?
It is based on the relationship.
It is based in God’s love.

What is Bible reading…no longer a duty but rather a reminder.
What is prayer…not a duty but a means to relationship.
What is honesty, truth, and any other Christian value…they are reminders that we have been set free. 

We are free to talk about our failures.
We are free to be known.
We are free to be a work in progress.
We are free to live a life as an expression of what has been done and as Peter said a hope of what is to come.

We tend to taint that freedom.
We taint it when we talk more of expectation instead of a focus on Christ. 

Michael Spencer, the creator of the Internet Monk in his book Mere Churchinaity exposes how we taint our freedom to live in Christ.  We have attached various adjectives to define us.  Words like victorious, on fire, vivacious, successful, vibrant, dynamic, awesome, spirit filled and so on. 

When we attach them we imply that there are actions we do to make it acceptable.

 We also set a written and unwritten set of behaviors that make us this way.

 Again our attention is on what I do. 

What we end up doing is moving Christ from the head position.  We talk more about what dynamic looks like instead of resting, talking and focusing in on the Biblical truths wrapped in Christ. 

A lady once said that she was told if she received Christ as her savior she would no longer want to do the things she used to do that got her between a rock and a hard place.  That is treating Jesus as a pill.  Just keep taking the Jesus pill and you will be o.k.
That is not the gospel.  The gospel is the truth that in each one of us is a continual battle to be god.  The effect of the fall is not only sin but an overriding desire to be god. 

 We battle for control. 

 We even adopt our American mentality of business, hard work and moral living to feign control. 

Colossians 2:21

“Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch (referring to the things that all perish as they are used) according to human precepts and teachings?  These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.”

The answer:  chapter 3:1

“ If then you have been raised with Christ seek the things that are above…”

 You will see clearly Paul’s discussion on this very issue.  We are so tainted we will use the Bible to justify our seeming good behavior.
Jesus is not interested in making good people.  He has done the work to move our hearts into a perspective that our only hope is Christ and Christ alone…so live that way.

That life is wrapped in servanthood and sacrifice as Jesus once again defines then life walk.

We will pick up here next week…what really is a life in Christ?

It is no secret that the majority of Christians seem to have lost the fruit of the Spirit.  What happened to joy?  Peace seems wrapped up in stock accounts and the economy?  Patience, not today?  Kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, selfcontrol…where is their power?

They are founded in the gospel.  When we turn to all our stuff to give the gospel its significance, we extinquish the flame. 

Our call is always to return to our first love.  It is Christ. 

He has done a great work, so now disciple of Christ, go live better yet, go worship. 

Sinclair Fergusen summed it up in his book IN CHRIST ALONE:  “If you are a Christian, then you are rich in Christ, enjoy and share the riches.”

Note:  Sermon did not encompass the third point, C.  In Christ Alone.  We will pick up there on Sunday, August 1, 2010.

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