A Man of Holy Ambition
A Man of Holy Ambition
Summarize Person/Life of Paul (Eulogy): Man of Holy Ambition
Credited w/ starting or involved in 14 church plants throughout the area of Greece and Asia Minor.
His letters make up about half of the NT
9 letters (epistles) instructing early NT churches
4 pastoral letters (1 and 2 Tim, Philemon, Titus)
Most likely the book of Hebrews
3 Missionary journeys covering modern Italy, Greece, Croatia, Turkey and Syria
Suffered Sickness, Beaten, Robbed, Shipwrecked, Imprisoned....continued to preach the gospel
After Conversion, 30 years spent on mission in the known world; until imprisoned and beheaded by Nero
Some people become synonomous with their passions
They have drive, dedication, “in their element”
Jordan or Lebron in basketball
Ali or Tyson in boxing
In missions and evangelism…we think of Paul
Paul’s ambition - see the goodness of God revealed through Jesus proclaimed to the farthest reaches of the world.
and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, “Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.”
What is our Ambition?
What is our Ambition?
What is our Ambition?
We all have ambition
Even as adults we still pursue what will bring us joy, significance and satisfaction.
We go through stages/phases of working toward “joy”
Middle School - If I could just get my license
High School - If I could just graduate
College - If I could just start my career
Working - If I could just Climb the ladder
Single - If I could just find “the one”
Married - If we could just have a nice family
Or we turn to Stuff - Big House, Fast Car, Exciting Hobby, Extravagant Vacation, fat 401k
We are bombarded with ads and voices telling us “this” is what will bring us joy, “this” is what it means to live “the good life”
We pour our time, energy, money, focus…our ambition into the pursuit of what promises to guarantee our joy.
There is nothing wrong with desiring or having nice things, all of these can be great blessings from God.
I’m thankful I can drive a car, don’t have to walk everywhere
I’m grateful for my wife and family; the love and joy that they bring.
I’m blessed to have a roof over my head (especially in all this rain, and air conditioning in the soon coming heat)
Even grateful for google, for an iphone - the ability to learn, to look up information quickly. The ability to carry a bookshelf in my pocket.
But Holy Ambition is different
What makes Holy Ambition different?
The problem is not that we work towards any of this; education, career, marriage, hobbies...
The problem is when we make any of these things ultimate.
When we believe that those things will bring us the most joy, the greatest comfort or lasting significance.
The secular world preaches that these things alone, in themselves can bring us satisfaction, but the Bible says “not so fast”.
It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.
When we seek satisfaction, joy, significance apart from God
Day after day working in futility: frustrated, tired in pursuit
We eat, but we aren’t satisfied…still hungry, still wanting
We are anxious, what’s next, where is my joy, end of my rope..next!
Not just about bread, an exhausting cycle of attempting to find answers in the temporary, in the finite.
We live in a culture that is continually seeking..
Newer, the bigger, the better…this at last, will bring joy
Enormous debt, High rates of divorce, addiction, depression…but maybe next time it will be different
So we fill our lives with “stuff” that becomes next years yard sale, next months trade in, next weeks garbage.
The Bible has a whole book (Ecclesiastes) that deals with the grand experiment of the pursuit of joy in the finite.
You think your parties were big?
Solomon had a party with 20,000 people
Provisions for one day...
200 liters of flour
400 liters of corn meal
200 deer, 100 sheep, over 100 birds
You think relationships are the answer? Sex? I had 700 wives and 300 concubines.
You think your house was big…I had a palace, I built mansions for my wives. I planted vineyards and forests and dug pools to water them.
In the End, it was ALL.....meaningless. Ecc 2:10-11
And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.
But, later Solomon found his answer…his purpose and joy Ecc 12:13
The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
In the end, what gives us purpose, significance, joy… is standing in awe at the glory of our Creator.
The Church should be counter-cultural, preaching a different gospel
There is lasting joy, peace, purpose
But not found in bank accounts, trinkets, or relationships with imperfect people
They are found in an infinite perfect God who has revealed Himself in scripture as the only source of lasting joy.
So Holy Ambition is the passionate pursuit of God and His glory, and a desire to share our source of joy with all who would hear.
Do we have this Holy Ambition?
Does we desire that those who have not seen or heard see and hear the gospel?
Are we compelled by what God has revealed in Scripture
Are we motivated by our own experiences of God’s goodness?
Do we seek opportunity to: Go, Send or Spend on Missions? (My prayer is that we would be)
Go - God raise up missionaries (Short/Long/ Life)
Send - Partner in prayer for protection, for reception
Spend - Not just cooperative program, but financially assist those we send out from our midst.
Not all called to go out of the country, God might just be calling you to get out of your chair.
For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’
You don’t have to leave the country/state/county to be on mission
All around us, ears that hearing have not heard.; eyes that seeing have not seen, the goodness of God.
Oh that God would move in His people in a way that compels us to proclaim His greatness.
Woman at the well - COME SEE
A Man who knew my need, my longing for love, acceptance, meaning, joy
A Man that despite my sin/failure, pursued me. He spoke to me, He came to me....the Savior
Think about your own life…has God brought
Joy where there was grief
Peace where there was turmoil
Forgiveness where there was guilt
Freedom where there were chains
Oh that our ambition would be to make known the riches and the fullness of the mercy and grace of God.
So after that introduction...
Two things that I read in this text that the body should strive for if we are to be a people of Holy Ambition
My hope is that we will be encouraged in our pursuit of God and we would be stirred to a lifetime of being on mission.
I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another. But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God. For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ;
A Knowledgeable People
A Knowledgeable People
We should seek to be a Knowledgeable People
Able to communicate the gospel and give guidance
Paul has heard great things about the church in Rome
Their actions displayed good moral qualities (FRUIT)
From right thinking; Jesus as both Savior and Lord
Able to instruct (advise/encourage/warn) one another
Filled with “knowledge”
Not prideful, puffed up used to tear down
But knowledge rooted in love, benefits others
1 Corinthians 13:2
And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
Knowledge leading to Fellowship and Discipleship
There was Unity, Openness, Safe Place
Have you doubted Salvation…you’re not alone
Have you harbored bitterness/anger…others have been there
Is there sin that feels like bondage…there are those who have fought similar battles
Those with Holy Ambition are a people who have read of and experienced the goodness of God and are ready to share Him with others
You don’t have to be a Theologian
Personal Experience (testimony) is an effective tool
BUT NOT an excuse to let your Bible gather dust.
We should have high regard for the Bible, because we worship the God of the Bible
Let us not be a church that worships a god based on our own intuition, or cultural opinions…God has revealed Himself.
Primary means God reveals Himself Rom 10:17
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
Speak truth to YOURSELF and OTHERS...
When there is fear Psalm 56:3
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
When there is guilt Ephesians 1:7
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,
When there is sorrow Revelation 21:4
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
We share God by sharing what He is teaching us in His word, and by sharing what He has done and is doing in our lives.
Let us not be a people who are constantly on the look for a new program that might work to bring people in…but let us be a people that go out because we have realized, WE ARE THE PROGRAM!
We go on mission to unreached people groups
We build relationships, and have gospel centered conversations
We seek to serve our family, our friends, our neighbors, pointing to the cross
The woman at the well did not wait for the town to come to her, she took her message to the people…COME SEE
A Prayerful People
A Prayerful People
Paul asks the church in Rome to be a people of prayer
I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company. May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.
Strive in prayer
A vigorous, passionate effort
This is more than just one and done
Paul asks that they pray often (spontaneous and scheduled)
Deliverance from unbelievers
Perhaps that God would guide conversations, that Paul would speak in love, that he would even “loose” gracefully
Perhaps that God would deliver from those who are more hostile, even violent towards those who reject God.
In our conversations, in our Facebook posts do we pray that God would guide our mouths/fingers as we engage in conversation?
Do we spend time praying for brothers/sisters around the world in hostile areas who are risking their lives to spread the gospel?
Paul a few in previous verses is taking a gift to Jewish Christians in Jerusalem.
Paul seeks unity within the church for Jew and Gentile
Remember those grey areas? Even in our differences, we are united by the cross.
Praying that we would not be sidetracked by the trivial, but that our course would be sure and our vision solid...
For the Work of the Spirit
This isn’t as obvious, but if we zoom out we can see Paul’s dependence on the Holy Spirit in his ministry.
For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ;
How does the Spirit Work?
Spirit in Sanctification (Verse 16)
As we read, as we pray, as we spend time with God He teaches us to be more like Jesus
Teaching us to love what God loves, and hate our sin and rebellion against Him
Paul says that Christ is working through Paul in word and deed by the power of the Holy Spirit
Do not be satisfied with just knowing the history and stories of the Bible.
Do not be satisfied with knowing the doctrines found in scripture.
Would we be a people who beg God to hide His word in our hearts that we would not sin against His Holy name?
Would we be so bold to ask that He change our thinking and affections in such a radical way that we truly become a “peculiar” people?
Spirit in Miracles
Paul was no stranger to the miraculous
He had healed the sick
He had been release d from prison
He had survived shipwrecks
When the odds were against him, God was for him and made the impossible, the possible
First Light, are we anticipating God will do the miraculous?
That God would heal the sick
That God would mend the broken
That God would free the addicted
That God would be made known through circumstances (both bad and good)
That God would create divine appointments
That these would lead to the greatest miracle...
God turning a heart of stone, into a heart of flesh
God breathing new life, where there is spiritual death and separation from God.
Salvation is dependent on the Spirit’s work
Fancy words cannot impress someone into rebirth
A great personality cannot charm someone into repentance
A high intellect cannot convince someone to believe
And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.
We pray for the Spirit of God to change hearts, our own and others. He is the one who opens eyes to see. He is the one who opens ears to hear.
Paul’s boast and Paul’s confidence is not placed in his own abilities; but in God.
So this morning as we close, I ask if we could do something a bit different.
That God would continue to move in our church, that we would see His beauty and be compelled share the gospel....COME SEE
That He would lead us in His word, that we would be equipped to comfort, to instruct and and encourage others in Jesus.
That we would be a people of prayer, that we would corporately ask that God move in the power of the Holy Spirit, that He would prepare hearts, that He would open eyes and ears to His glory.