“What I am anxious to see in Christian believers is a beautiful paradox. I want to see in them the joy of finding God while at the same time they are blessedly pursuing Him. I want to see in them the great joy of having God yet always wanting Him.” A. W. Tozer

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The Book of Romans - A New Testament Bible Commentary 

Sermon # 76 : It’s Because of Christ

I am who I am because of Christ.
I am where I am because of Christ.
I have what I have because of Christ.

It is because of Christ from the beginning to the end. There is no ‘me’ or ‘I’ in the middle. That’s my attitude; that’s what I believe.

Christ came into the world for a purpose. 
He suffered for a purpose. 
He hung on the cross for a purpose. 

The moment we set aside this purpose and begin to focus on our own sufficiency, we begin to drift away from the path of grace.

Sadly, there are attempts by some Christians to exalt the ‘me’ over the ‘Him’. “It was because of me that the Lord blessed me,” they say. “It is because I am this and that and have done this and that before the Lord that I now have this and that,” they say.

The question then becomes, “If you are self-sufficient, why did Christ have to go through all the suffering for you?”

Salvation is a mixed bag. Every good thing that one may require is already in the bag. The moment one enters the Kingdom, he enters into everything that God provided through Jesus Christ – eternal life, family, friends, love, hope, mercy, grace, health, wealth, peace, food, drink, clothes, accommodation, income, joy – what people generally refer to as all-round prosperity.

The Bible says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” - Ephesians 1:3 (NIV). Note this – He has blessed us. It starts in the spiritual realm, after which it becomes reality in the natural. The blessings are already available. God has already blessed us through Christ.

Are you a believer? If so, then you are blessed in Christ Jesus - you have entered into the realm of what Jesus has already provided for you! Is it because of what you had done? No, not at all! It was actually for His name’s sake! In fact, you deserved punishment for what you had done!

I have heard some Christians declare, “When I get into challenges, I simply point at all that I have done for God, and I pray, ‘Lord, check my record.’”

I get chills whenever I hear somebody say this!

Which record should God check - your own record or your record in Christ? If God were really to check your record - really, really checking it, do you think you would pass the test?

Would God do anything for you based on your own record? Because God would not check just the aspect you are proud of, but the entire record, if you really want Him to go by records!

Isn’t it that Christians are hidden in Christ – it is no longer them that live but it is now Christ who lives in them? Why not let just your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no’? Where could this ‘me’ and ‘I’ mentality be resurrecting from?

The ‘me’ or ‘I’ mentality reminds me of the Pharisee and the tax collector praying. The Pharisee stood and prayed something like this, “Thank you Lord because I am just awesome in every way! I am not like the rest!”

But the tax collector humbly prayed, “Have mercy on me…”

The Bible says the tax collector’s prayer was accepted, but the prayer of the awesome one turned out to be solely for his own consumption!

If you want to ask for something from the Lord just go ahead and do just that; it’s your right. But never try to justify yourself by the works that you have done. If you did, God would respond, “Now that you are relying on your goodness, what does my Son have to do with it? It’s now all about you. So you’ve got to see this through to the end!”

Here is what the Bible teaches: “Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” - 1 Corinthians 1:31 (NIV).

That’s the point.

Never boast in yourself or in the works that you do or have done before God. Instead, whenever you want to boast, boast in what the Lord has accomplished for you, something you did not deserve in the first place!

“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” - Galatians 6:14 (NIV).

Let us not empty the cross of its power by emphasising our own works. By emphasising our own works we continue to crucify Christ and make His suffering of non-effect. We nullify the reason for His coming. We also take ourselves back into bondage, into living by our own works, not by the grace of God.

But what is the position regarding doing good works?

The answer is: I am yet to see a really born again person who shuns good works or chooses to be disobedient in the sight of God.

Good works are the DNA of every child of God. The risk we face, however, is the tendency by some to substitute Christ with the good works - with them going about shouting, “I am the man!” or “I am bad! I am bad! You know it!”

Doing good works - being obedient to the Master - is what Paul referred to as living “lives worthy of God.”

That’s what I believe. That’s how I live.

Please share your views on this.

Sermon # 75: In the Service of the Lord

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” – Galatians 1:10 (NIV)

I love this. The position is neatly spelt out. “If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ,” Paul declared.

A servant is a person who works for somebody. A servant is a person who does the will of their Master. If they turn away from the will of their Master, then they cease to be a servant. Disobedience is not service. Rebellion is not service. Infact, disobedience and rebellion fight against the will of the Master!

Paul said, “If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

Paul was a bondservant of Christ. He once referred to himself as a person who was 'set apart' for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Paul knew exactly who he was and what he was expected to do. He also knew exactly who he was not and what he was not expected to do. So should you and me; we should never compromise the life given to us in Christ Jesus, a life so valuable that Jesus had to hang on the cross for us to receive it!

Here is the point – you should never seek to please people; they are not your masters. You should seek to please the Lord always. In doing so you will please some people; you will also displease the rest. 

Here is the point again – never get worried if you find that some people are displeased with you if their displeasure emanates from you pleasing the Lord. 

You simply cannot afford to please people by displeasing the Lord! Paul went to great lengths to please the Lord. In the process he displeased some people but Paul never concerned himself with such displeasure.

If you are concerned about what people think about your service to God, or about your salvation, or about your separation from ungodly practices and traditions, then you seek to please people.

There are people today whose only claim to Christianity is that they attend church. Besides that they are exactly the same as people who still wonder what church is! 

But what does the Bible teach? Listen to this: “Now honor the LORD, the God of your ancestors, and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples around you...” - Ezra 10:11 (NIV) 

This does not mean that one has to physically relocate, but certainly one needs to totally relocate in the spirit if indeed Jesus Christ has become their Saviour and Lord.

As His life on earth was about to come to an end, Jesus prayed for His disciples as follows:  “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it." - John 17:13-16 (NIV)

So you will continue to live among them and to show them the gracious nature of the Christian, but you will need to migrate in the spirit.

But what exactly does pleasing people mean, in practical terms? Here are examples:
  • Someone you respect tells you to do something that you clearly know to be out of line with the will of God, and you proceed to do so simply because you do not want to displease them.
  • You avoid teaching or discussing some genuine biblical truths simply because some people would be offended. Or you even behave in a manner that suggests you actually approve of the same, or you even misrepresent that God accepts it – simply because you do not want to offend people practising it. Yet in your hypocrisy you actually deprive some an opportunity to repent.
  • You follow your friends in doing something wrong simply because you feel a sense of belonging to the group, or you accept to be ridiculed into such practices - giving in to peer pressure.
For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” - 2 Timothy 4:3 (NIV). 

The objective of such teachers is to please people, by so doing displeasing the Lord.

In the service of the Lord, therefore, we please people by pleasing God.

Sermon # 74: Contentment, Joy & Happiness - Driven by Eternity

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” – Philippians 4:11-12 (NIV)

This is a powerful statement, a Spiritual position – contentment.

Paul says, “I am not in need. I can make do with whatever is available, whether it is much or little.” Imagine this.

May this word minister to you today!

How could Paul say this? What was the driving force towards such an attitude?

The simple answer is - focus. Paul did not focus on the things of the world. His focus was on things above; that is what he was passionate about. Paul was driven by eternity, not by his surroundings.

As Christians, we live in the world, but we are not of it – that’s what Jesus taught us. We are, as it where, spirits looking at the world from above. We should never be moved by the things of this world, only by Spiritual things. 

Paul said, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” - Philippians 4: 12 (NIV) O how I wish every Christian would learn this secret – it would surely solve a number of problems and ward off so many risks and heartaches that some Christians face in this generation.

I do not want to sound critical, but I think too many Christians are chasing material things more than they are seeking Christ. Such people are driven by this world, not by eternity; they are looking at the things of this world more than they look at the things above. There surely is an urgent need for change in the body of Christ.

A person who is driven by material things cannot live a joyful life. This is because joy is independent of any outside factors. Take the example of Paul – he was content in every situation; he therefore could afford to be full of joy always.

Joy, hence contentment, is a fruit of the Spirit. Listen to this: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness…” - Galatians 5:22 (NIV) 

If you are filled with the Spirit, you will be joyful always because joy is a fruit of the Spirit.

This should be easy to understand - joy comes from the Spirit. It does not come from food, property or clothing. Of course happiness does come from such things. That is why the worldly are sometimes happy and sometimes unhappy depending on the state of their possessions.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” - Philippians 4:4 (NIV). I think you now understand why Paul gave this instruction. I want you to especially note the use of the word ‘always’. It means always.

The following verses can give you further insight into the topic under discussion:
  • “You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.” - Acts 2:28 (NIV). I dare to say that the only condition precedent for joy is to be in the presence of the Lord. 
  • “I have spoken to you with great frankness; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds” - 2 Corinthians 7:4 (NIV). Note this – Paul’s joy knew no bounds even in the face of troubles. If joy were related to external circumstances, there would have been no way Paul could have overflowed with joy under such conditions.
  • “In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.” - 2 Corinthians 8:2 (NIV). Their joy overflowed in the midst of severe trial and extreme poverty. 
  • “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness…” - Galatians 5:22 (NIV) 
So “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” - Philippians 4:4 (NIV)

Learn to be content. Let eternity drive you. Look at the things above, not at the things below. You are a spirit being, not a physical body!