Faithlife Sermons

Evangelism & The Gospel: The Good News of A New Life of Freedom part 4

Evangelism & the Gospel  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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What Gospel Freedom is FOR: the paradox of flourishing in God's company, by (i)accepting radical grace and (ii)adopting freeing self-denial

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[ RECAP ]
Through the good news concerning Jesus, Jesus can bring us freedoms from such things as:
guilt, self-centredness, fear.
But we must remember too, that it’s not only important for us to be liberated FROM certain bondages,
it’s also crucial that we be liberated FOR the right things as well!
The good news message intends to bring us true freedom, and,
that involves a freedom to be one’s true self as God made us and meant us to become.
We are made by Someone who is Holy Love, Who intends us to receive His love by grace...
Someone Who plans that we be given over to loving and enjoying Him
— as well as being given over to loving other people because of Him.
This much is true of the people to whom we commonly share the gospel message:
They intuitively know that it is only in loving deeply, and in being loved deeply,
that they can find their true & proper purpose in life.
They know, deep within them, that they’re built for relationships of love...
But we have noticed that there’s a problem with this kind of loving...
It’s a problem which quickly emerges for all ordinary, unsaved people, like we all were at one point.
And what was that problem again?
It goes like this:
(1)Real freedom is freedom to be my true self as God made me and meant me to be.
And (2)God made me and purposed me for “loving” God & others.
And God made me and purposed me for “loving” God & others.
But loving is a special kind of giving — the giving of myself to others for their benefit!
Therefore, in order to be my true self, I have to deny my self and give myself up to God & to others!
In order to be free, I have to enter a life of service!
In order to really experience life, I have to die to my own self-centredness.
In order to find myself, I have to lose myself for God’s purposes.And God made me and purposed me for “loving” God & others.
But (3)loving is a special kind of giving — the giving of myself to others for their benefit!
Therefore, (4)in order to be my true self, I have to deny my self and give myself up to God & to others!
In order to be free, I have to enter a life of service!
In order to really experience life, I have to die to my own self-centredness.
In order to find myself, I have to lose myself for God’s purposes.
In order to be really free, I have find and be my true self by losing myself for God’s purpose...
…and that part seems highly unattractive to unsaved people without the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
This is the “so what?” of the good news message of freedom which Jesus taught.
Every single gospel account of Jesus, records this kind of commanded invitation, , , and .
“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.”
“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.”
“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.”
[ OPENING PRAY ]
[ OPENING PRAY ]
One hundred and eighty years after the death of emperor Charlemagne, in about the year 1000,
One hundred and eighty years after the death of emperor Charlemagne, in about the year 1000,
officials of the later Emperor Otho opened the great king’s tomb, where they found an amazing sight apart from the treasures.
What the officials saw was this:
(i) the skeletal remains of the king seated on a thrown, the crown still upon his skull,
(ii) a copy of the Gospels lying in his skeleton’s lap ...with his bony finger resting on this text:
(iii) “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” (v.36)
Confessing the gospel of Jesus to others means that you take up one’s cross and follow Him.
It means embracing the paradox that you lose your self to God in order to keep yourself.
Eternal reward comes to one’s soul, by embracing & trusting in the goodness and grace of God —
— with repentance from every God substitute — and genuine trust in His goodness & grace instead!
Then, we, ourselves, consequently, are called to confess the good news of Jesus Christ.
Jesus warns us, with quite a climax of a saying:
“If anyone is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation,
the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” (v.38)
That’s what Jesus insisted upon as a necessary consequence of His gospel message to us.
Every gospel account of Jesus, records these kinds of teachings on Jesus’ own lips:
For example there is ; ; ;
In fact, Matthew even has this exact type of saying twice in His gospel …in .
When Jesus speaks of our life here …or perhaps your English translation has the word soul or self
…He’s not just speaking of our physical well-being or our physical life.
In the original language of their original inspired gospel accounts, the gospel writers all choose the word ψυχή [ psuchē ]
— our psyche, our ego — which mean the inner me, in this context.
So our Master is saying that:
7 7. Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations (Rockville, MD: Assurance Publishesrs, 1979), p. 1213.
Whoever holds on to himself, lives for himself, refuses to let go of himself …thereby LOSES himself in so doing!
BUT whoever, lets go of himself, loses himself, giving himself away to God …thereby finds himself where he really ought to be!
Whoever loses himself, by giving himself away to God & God’s purposes — and that includes helping others for the sake of the good-news about Jesus — that person finds himself!
Your friend might be holding onto herself or himself, out of fear, or, out of an angry commitment to control their own well-being, but such a self-guarding motivation will always back-fire implies Jesus, in that, it will not see your friend, saved and being with God.
Jesus’ teaching is that: in the very experience of entrusting yourself to God...
......in the very experience of abandoning yourself to God...
......just when you might ordinarily think that everything is lost...
......just then you find yourself—you experience true freedom…
...being set free, by being trustfully with God, alive to His purposes.
…You have become alive to Him and His wonderful, meaningful purposes.
True freedom is had, in the exact opposite way that most people strive.
Only the beauty of the gospel, and the persuasive power of the Spirit, moves people to behave in such a counter-intuitive way: to gain life by letting go of your own grip on saving yourself.
Instead, most people tend to think that freedom comes by freeing myself from all responsibility to God and toward others, so that I can really live for myself.
So many people today in the West are crying out assertively:
I want to be free; I want to get rid of all these constraints!
“This God that you Christians tell me about, is only some kind of cosmic policeman!
Whenever I’m enjoying myself just a little, such a God just tells me to stop.
Such a God crushes me with His heavy load of authority…commanding all these responsibilities of me.
......I want to get rid of such a God!” they’re complaining.
But, in fact, my friends, this misrepresents both God and His freedom.
Real freedom is quite different!
Real freedom is freedom from my silly little self...
…freedom from the cramping bondage of self-centredness...
…freedom from my self-invented empty plans.
Real freedom is the freedom to love and give myself to my Creator and Saviour
— giving myself to enjoy Him and His wise purpose for my life.
Real freedom is the freedom to be significant in God’s plans
— freedom to make a difference, because I can now let go of my self...
…and entrust myself into God’s purpose for my life.
Previously we’ve discussed the freedoms we can enjoy FROM guilt & fear & self-centredness.
And that they can come because of Jesus’ death & resurrection & imparting of the Spirit.
NOW, we are emphasizing that such freedoms only do come to you when in actuality you repentantly, trustingly come to the deny your self and give your self to both enjoy and follow Him in His gospel purposes.
“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.”
Mark 8:35 NASB95
“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.
You have to lose your self to Him, in order to find your self …and that is how true freedom comes personally to you.
You have to lose your self to Him, in order to find your self …and that is how true freedom comes personally to you.
The Holy Spirit’s working with the gospel message makes this a reality in your life.
And the prior gospel achievements of Jesus make the provisions of various freedoms available and possible.
No other Saviour can make such freedoms available to you in the first place!
The Lord Jesus Himself, lived this kind of relationship with God the Father.
It was the secret of His life of amazing obedience and successful spiritual battle...
This is HOW He chose to turn to Jerusalem to go to the cross to die for our sins.
Remember He said just beforehand,
()
SO, first, you have to trust in what Jesus did for your salvation — so that you could be free FROM so many things...
BUT, then, secondly, you must see what you have to be free FOR: to follow Jesus … to live for Him … to give yourself to Him, to enjoy and serve Him.
The way of the cross for us means to follow Jesus’ lead and die to yourself … and live for Him instead.
According to Jesus’ voice in you must be free FOR Someone else …and for something else bigger than yourself:
the cause of the gospel of God’s grace.
Is that you today, living for Jesus and living for the furtherance of His gospel influence?
A few years ago, I got to personally meet and chauffer the now aged Australian evangelist John Smith who had, much earlier, introduced my wife Chris to Jesus’ gospel message.
Before I had met Chris, she had come to trust in Jesus’ forgiveness, His life-transforming Spirit and the comfort of His Kingly reign.
Before she ever met me, she had been led to give herself to Jesus, to follow and enjoy and serve Him.
So I was quite interested in how John Smith had become the motivated evangelist that he had become...
John told me in our rusty Ford station-wagon how, years earlier, that he had been challenged to a deep response to the gospel he’d always intellectually known about.
It happened as he had been reading Victor Hugo’s book, Les Miserable.
He was arrested by the story of Jean ValJean.
It was an event in Jean’s life that not only ensured that Jean was free from prison but the legal vendetta which sought to follow Jean and see him incarcerated again.
This event not only ensured that Jean was free from prison …but enlivened Jean to live for a purpose...
Jean ValJean became freed for a purpose.
The background was that as a young man, Jean served a 19 year jail term of hard labour for stealing food for his family.
Jean emerged from the brutalities of prison as a hard, embittered man.
Nothing would ever break his well; he’d lost everything and everyone.
Four days, Jean wandered the streets destitute after his tentative release.
No-one would trust such a hardened, untrustworthy looking former convict.
Finally, a kindly old bishop had mercy on starving Jean; he took him into his own home.
The first night that Jean lay in a comfortable bed, he waited until the bishop and his sister were asleep.
Jean then arose to rummage through the cupboards for the family silverware.
Callously injuring the bishop in his escape into the darkness, he took 6 silver plates and the silver soup ladle which had been the bishop’s pride and joy.
The next morning, three gendarmes knocked on the bishop’s door.
Jean was with them — they’d found him running away from them with silverware in his grubby bag.
He’d told them the unbelievable story that the bishop had given it to him.
The police were ready consign this treacherous ingrate to chains again...
After all, Jean had failed to make any good use of the freedom he’d been granted —
— and the hospitality he had extended to him...
However, the police were shocked by what happened next:
Jean could scarcely take it in himself.
The injured bishop greeted Jean like a worthy friend:
So here you are! I’m delighted to see you!
Have you forgotten …that I gave you the candlesticks as well?
They’re silver like the rest, and worth a good 200 francs.
…Did you forget to take them?
Jean’s eyes were widened in disbelief, staring at the old bishop.
He couldn’t find words to speak!
Then the bishop turned to the 3 gendarmes: “ This silver is my gift to him.”
The police just walked off.
When they were gone and Jean stood alone with the bishop, his tone toward Jean did not change.
And he really did give Jean the silver candlesticks!
Jean was no longer merely speechless — he was trembling with emotion.
“Do not forget,” he said to Jean, “so not ever forget, that you promise me to use the money to make yourself an honest life.”
The next day, Jean’s knee buckled under him as if an invisible power overwhelmed him, as with a blow — under the massive weight of his bad conscience.
Jean fell exhausted on a large stone, his hands clenched in his hair, his face in his knees:
“What a wretch I am!” — and he burst into tears — the 1st time he’d cried in 19 years.
At first there were tears of remorse and guilt …but later there was reverence for the grace and purpose he had received.
The bishop’s redemptive purpose unfolded in Jean’s life — even after Jean became the dignified and respected leader of a French town elsewhere...
My question to you today …and Jesus’ question through you if you are His disciple, is this:
Have you said ‘yes’ to God’s purpose?
Have you let go of yourself, lost your self, and discovered your true freedom in loving and trusting the Lord Jesus?
Has it been a long time since you wept over what once hardened you against trusting yourself to God?
Is it time for you to do that this week?
Is that what the Spirit of Jesus is urging you toward this week?
Perhaps, instead, you’re already enjoying some of God’s freedom the slavery of sin,
let me ask you then:
Are you losing yourself for Christ’s sake, for the sake of the gospel? ARE YOU?
His purpose for your freedom is that you will love Him...
…so much so that you will therefore love others enough …so that...
...you will encourage them to become free by the power of the gospel?
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