September 26, 2021

Christ through me


There is one story in the Bible that children like… the conquest of Jericho. What strategy did God offer Israel to take over the city? Walk 7 days around the city, and on the 7th day, 7 times and then shout, blow the trumpets, and the fortress will fall down. What for, or why? God took away any possibility for Israel to boast!

Today’s text teaches this, and it is the main lesson of any ministry –Christ through me! 3 visible manifestations of Christ through us in ministry

I. Christ is glorified by us (v. 17)

This is the eternal human inclination to boast! We are created this way. We are constantly looking for an object of worship. The natural reaction is when we find something worthy of worship, we boast in that object of worship.

If the object of your worship is yourself, you will boast of yourself. If the object of your worship is someone else, you will boast of that person. You say with particular enthusiasm how your grandson learned to crawl, your child learned to tie his shoelaces, first step; your first independent driving of a car, you got a good job, new car, etc.

For the apostle Paul, the object of worship is Christ (v. 16), and of course he will boast in Him (v. 17)!

How to arrive here? (Jer. 9:23-24) is the key!

(1 Cor. 1:30-31) – salvation; (2 Cor. 10:13-18) – ministry

The order is the key – boast in salvation, and then in ministry! 

II. Christ is received by us (vv. 18-19) (He is crowned by us)

Christ uses us and our abilities to achieve His goals! When do we become an instrument in God’s hands?

A. In compliance (v. 18a)

“not Paul, but Christ through him…” Often we think about how God fits into our story, when I reality, we should be thinking of how we fit into His story! The center is not where we think it is!

So, who, then, did accomplish the salvation of the Gentiles, Paul of Christ?

(Acts 26:12-18) – God called Saul (future Paul) to a specific ministry – to open the eyes of the Gentiles, in other words, to save them for eternity.

(2 Cor. 4:1-7) – God opens his eyes! Why? All power is attributed to God, not a man. Likewise in our context, all praise belongs to Christ, because it is He who does the work through Paul.

Ex. – The child learns to ride on the bike; mow the grass…

(1 Cor. 15:10) parallel thought – Christ or grace through Paul!

B. In consistency (v. 18b)

“by word and deed”, what Paul is speaking about is consistent life!

Who knows in which chapters the Sermon on the Mount? (Matt. 5-7) – this is a powerful sermon, this is an authoritative Word (7:29).

And right after… (8:1-4 – loving the uncomfortable, 5-7, 13 – loving the enemy, 14-15 loving our own, 16-17 – loving everyone, 23-27 – loving the weak, 28-34 – loving contrary to the opinion of others) – Christ touches the unclean, he spends time with them, heals – these are the “deeds”.

This is a serious remind to all of us – we speak and teach, but we must show and prove that by our work and deeds!

C. In confirmation (v. 19a)

In the case of the apostles, in the early years of their ministry, when there was no Scripture to verify the truth of their preaching, God gave confirming signs and wonders. It is about the purpose of miracles – to confirm, and about the character of the miracles, they were supernatural.

A similar picture took place in Egypt, when Moses, through signs and wonders, received confirmation of the truth of what he said. Also, in the apostolic church, signs were confirmation of what was preached. Now, Scripture is supporting the truth of the sermon (Acts 17:11) – the Bereans studies the Scriptures.

The most powerful and visible work of the H.S. is salvation of sinners

D. In completeness (v. 19b)

“from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum” (Mark 3:34; 6:6)

Illyricum is the territory of the former Yugoslavia, more than 2,000 kilometers from Jerusalem.

Fulfilled the ministry means the Gospel is spread everywhere. Most commentators in light of verse 20 say that Paul proclaimed the Gospel to every nation and planted a church so that the name of Christ was heard throughout the area.

Paul thought globally, but acted locally! He sowed wide, like Christ!

(Mark 4:13) – this parable is the key to all other parables!

(4:2-20) – the parable of sowing broadly. It is not our responsibility to change people, but our responsibility to tell it to as many people as possible.

For this to happen, start being friendly with absolutely everyone you come in contact with, and deliberately lead the conversation to the Gospel!

III. Christ is proclaimed by us (vv. 20-21)

This text, like no other text, speaks clearly and with conviction about the missionary ministry of the church in this world. Moreover, here is the specific mission – to unreached nations. Looking at Paul, we must conclude that this is the pinnacle of all the activities of the church in this world! Preaching about Christ where people have not heard about Christ, this is the center of the Gospel!

(v. 20) – Paul’s role is to lay the foundation, but the work does not stop there (1 Cor. 3:9-10)

(v. 21) – this text is valuable because of the OT quote. This quote is from (Is. 52:15). This is the so called last song of the Messiah, which ends in the well-known 53rd chapter of Isaiah. But it begins in 52:13-15. Our quote is a paraphrase of the original. But those who know will immediately run to this text about the coming Messiah!

Why is it important?

This text talks about what is included in the sermon – the message of Christ. The fact is that this text says that the Apostle Paul used Isaiah 52-53 in evangelism! This is a good hint for us today on how to preach the Gospel without fear!

Several non-standard implications:

1) We must go to the unreached people! I invite you to pray and seriously tune in so that, specifically we, the weak and unprofessional people, that God would take and use to reach the unreached peoples. Let us pray that the ones called and the church would both recognize, accept and act upon it. Experience shows that the more the church is busy with her goal of reaching out the lost, the more God meets the needs of the church. Seems like a paradox. We need people here in church so badly, that we sacrificially give them away, and the most valuable, but in the end, God restores what’s been given away.

2) Mission is a special area of the kingdom of God where the single people are especially valuable. (those who are not yet married or became single). The apostle Paul was single! Christ was single! Their solitude was used to the maximum for the kingdom of God! In our circles there are people, who, for various reasons, are not married now – oh, how we want you to look at it not as disadvantage, but as a unique opportunity!

3) Mission trips for next summer begin now. Please, prepare finances, save money, study Scripture in order to be able to help others. Apologetics class on Wednesdays is just for that.

4) Begin to pray earnestly, individually or as a family, for specific missionaries: Oleg and Olga Gerasichkin (Boryspol, Ukraine), Alexander and Irina Ilyin (Warsaw, Poland), Sergei and Svetlana Potapov (Torun, Poland).

5) Be the light in your “Jerusalem.” Be faithful witness where you live, work, study, relax, shop, get haircut, exercise… We may not all go the ends of the earth, but we are called to evangelize where we are.

6) Don’t waste your life. Only one life. Only what’s done for Christ will last. Don’t just forsake your sin, but devote your life to ministry!

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