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Christ first in all things pt 1

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·         Ramsbottom                                                            12-11-06 AM

·         Reading John 1: 1 - 35

·         Theme - “Christ first in all things”

·         Intro

·         Three times in this passage John the Baptist declares that Jesus Christ was first and foremost in his life.

·         Three times in three different circumstances he publicly declares that Christ was central in his life, that everything he did revolved around Christ, his ministry, his message, where he went and what he said all reflected this truth.

·         We see in vs.15, 27, & 30 “he who comes after me is preferred before me, for he was before me” or he is ranked higher than I because he was before me.

·         The reason for John being sent by God, the message he preached, the relationship he had with the people, even his life style was to emphasise the fact that Jesus Christ was shortly to follow.

·         And what we see is John revealing this through his message and through the way he devotes himself to his calling turning the people attention of himself and pointing them to Christ.

·         So that all he said and did was done from the mindset of presenting Christ as being first and foremost. So that when he preaches, or when he is interrogated by the leaders from Jerusalem, or even when he is having a simple conversation with his followers each time he elevates Christ and demotes himself.

·         He did this because Christ for him was first and foremost in his life, and because this was his attitude God used him mightily.

·         He was preferred before him and

·         What I would like to do to look start and look at this theme of how “Christ should be first in all things” – to start and how John reveals this from this passage.

·         This morning I would like to lay the foundation, to show you from scripture that it should be our duty and delight to do this, and then to look at the first instance when John says in vs.15 “he who comes after me is preferred before me”.

·         To see how he understood that everything he had of worth came from the fullness of Christ and because Christ had given him his all then surely it was on right that he give his all in return.

·         Charles Sheldon’s book “In his Steps”

·         The rev Henry Maxwell was the pastor of the first church of Raymond, a church that was in a middle class area of the town, with wealthy and notable people attending.

·         His was at his usual practice of sermon prep on a Friday afternoon when he was disturbed – he was preaching from 1 Pet 2; 21  For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: his subject was following Christ

·         At the door was a tramp looking for work – he soon got rid of the man and went back to his sermon.

·         He was not a dull preacher; he loved declaring God’s word and sometimes got very animated when preaching.

·         They sang that morning “Jesus I my cross have taken, soloist before the sermon sang “where he leads me I will follow”

·         He then preached from his text for 40 min he expounded his passage exhorting the people to follow Christ.

·         As he finished he closed his bible and prepared to sing the last hymn “all for Jesus, all for Jesus all my being’s ransomed powers”

·         When something happened that was to change his life and the lives of many around him, a voice was heard  from the back of the church requesting the opportunity to speak

·         The man stood up and walked to the front of the church and stood below the pulpit and turning faced the congregation.

·         “I’ve been wondering since I came in here if it would be just the thing to say a word at the close of the service. I am not drunk, or crazy, I am perfectly harmless, but if I die as there is every likelihood I shall in a few days, I want the satisfaction of thinking that I said my say in a place like this, and before this sort of a crowd”

·         Henry Maxwell did not leave his pulpit and did not try and stop him, instead he looked down from where he stood and listened intently at what the man said – it was the same man that had knocked on his door only a couple of days earlier.

·         He went on to explain that he was not an ordinary tramp, he had been once a printer with a wife and family, but due to progress he had lost his job, his wife had died in the slums of New York and at present his daughter was having to stay with friends until he could send for her.

·         He was not blaming anyone that is how it is but what puzzled him was that if you truly followed Christ would there not be a difference to be seen.

·         What do Christians mean by following the steps of Jesus? He had been in the city 3 days and had not received one word of sympathy or help.

·         He said what do you mean when you sing “I’ll go with him, with him, all the way” – do you mean that you are suffering and denying yourselves to save lost, suffering humanity just as I understand Jesus did?

·         I heard some people sing at a prayer meeting the other night -“All for Jesus, All for Jesus all for Jesus all my beings ransomed powers” and I wondered as I sat on the steps outside what they meant by it.

·         It seems to me there’s an awful lot of trouble in the world that somehow wouldn’t exist if all the people who sing such songs went and lived them out.

·         He continued like this for a short while not accusing anyone in particular but trying to understand how following Jesus made a difference because in is experience he had not seen any.

·         After a few moments the man lurched forward reached out his hand and steadied himself, with his other hand he held his head, then suddenly he passed out unconscious on the floor.

·         Henry Maxwell came down from the pulpit, and Doctor West came out of the church to help, they carried the man to the pastor’s study and then up to Henry’s house.

·         The man remained in the house and Henry Maxwell cared for him. But as the week progressed the condition of the man because more serious so they sent for his daughter.

·         This event had a profound effect on Henry, God had spoken to him that week, he was challenged to examine his own life to see that following Christ was more than just a mental recognition it involved every aspect of his life.

·         The following Sunday Henry once again entered the pulpit to preach the message that God had given him, he began recounting what had happened the previous week.

·         He said that the man had passed away that very morning about an hour before his daughter had arrived; she was up at the house being looked after by his wife.

·         He recounted how the words of the stranger had affected him, and made him question “what does following Jesus really mean?” he went on to preach about this again, this time with a new dimension to his preaching, with an unmistakable earnestness that the people recognised and acknowledge, God through his Spirit was starting to do a work among these people.

·         At the end of his sermon he made a proposition to the church he asked for volunteers for an experiment of which he was to include himself.

·         He proposed that they should pledge themselves, earnestly and honestly for an entire year, not to do anything without first asking the question “what would Jesus do? And after asking that question each one will follow Jesus exactly as he knows how, no matter what the result may be”

·         At the close of the service he suggested that those who would do this meet in another room to discuss how they might do this.

·         He entered the room after he had shook the hands of the people as they had left the church and about 50 people all stood, all willing to make the pledge, all willing to try and live the life they committed themselves to do  when they got saved.

·         The end result was that these people made a difference; the book is all about the trials and tribulations they faced in making this pledge. But whatever it was they gave up for God he blessed them in greater ways, and after the year was up they did not stop and return to the old life.

·         No they had made such an impact soon others followed, many where saved, and it spread throughout the land. And it all started because a small group of people wanted to live their lives involving Christ in every decision they made.

·         They understood that following Christ was more than a mere mental recognition of who he is and what he has done for you, following Christ meant living in his steps.

·         Putting Christ first in all things should be Our Duty and Delight

·         1 Pet 2; 21  For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps –

·         Lu 9:23  And He said to them all, "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

·         There is a cost to living the Christian life, Christ was very clear about that, we follow his steps, we read the gospels and see how much it cost him, how he was rejected and despised by man, Christ said as they have hated him they will hate us, this is all part of taking up our crosses daily.

·         We understand this, that there is a cost but the problem is we only prepared to pay part of it, just like we only want him to share part of our lives, he can have so much but the rest is ours.

·         We will let him into part of our lives but that part is mine, like the selfish child I will let you play with my toys but it is on my terms and as soon as I think you are getting to much I will take them away.

·         But this is not what we agreed when we accepted salvation; the condition of our faith was that we would give back to Christ what were rightly his and friends that was everything we have.

·         1Co 6:20 For ye are bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. We are not our own, we have been bought by the blood of Christ he owns us we are his by right.

·         And with that right, comes the requirement to follow him, which means involving Christ into every area of our lives.

·         And it has to be noted that only those that put Christ first in all things will be blessed by God and used by God

·         Look at any great person of faith in the word of God, or in church history or in your own local church, and you will see that God uses those people who submit their whole lives to Christ.

·         I have been reading the life of John Wesley and one thing is certain he submitted all of his life to Christ; he was tireless even relentless in taking the message of Christ to the people.

·         He did more in the name of Christ before he was saved than most of us ever do when we are saved.

·         We serve a jealous God the bible says and he will not contend for your service, he commands you to follow Christ, and to do that you have to put Christ first in all things.

·         And he can do that because that is exactly what he has done for you?

·         Remember what the bible says he Ro 8:32  He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, then surely it is our duty to give him our all in return.

·         This is the challenge to all of us, to examine ourselves honestly and consider that in everything we say, and think and do that Christ is first and foremost.

·         This should be our mindset to bring glory to his name and to be found obedient to his commands in scripture.

·         So that ever decision we make with regard to our wealth, our time, our family, our work, our relationships, our future goals and plans for tomorrow are all shaded by this truth.

·         We are not just talking about our church life and the roles we have in the church but about every sphere of our lives.

·         How often do we go through the day and make decisions based upon what we would like to do or happen to ourselves. How many selfish decisions are made purely by personal choice and Christ has no relevance or thought connected to that decision?

·         Do you think it is possible to live a day when everything we do is influenced by the motive of involving Christ in it, of putting him first.

·         If we did we would revolutionize this town, our Christianity would be so evident it would have an impact, not just in our families but in our works, our friends, in our neighbourhood people would soon see the difference.

·         Look what God did with 12 men – their testimony was that they turned the world upside down with their lives, why because they lived everyday for the glory of Christ.

·         They actively made a conscious decision to be led by Christ, to serve him, and to do only those things that glorified him.

·         Example of Paul and see how he lived for Christ – Paul’s words where Phil 1:21 for to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

·         Can we say that and begin to understand its implications, can we honestly say like Paul that Christ influences ever decision we make that he is the source of every motive we have.

·         Because this is the standard and the goal we aim for not just as a church but as Christians as well.

·         When you think about Paul’s words this is a very powerful statement, because what he is saying here is that, to the best of his ability and before God he is consciously trying to live for the glory of Christ.

·         That every desire he had was wrapped up in Christ, in putting him first. Paul was this under the influence of the Holy Spirit, he was also writing to people who knew him, it must have been true or he would not have written it, and it would not have been believed by the church.

·         This is our duty and should be our delight also(this is what Henry Maxwell was starting to understand) - to be those people that God can use in the church; the church does not grow and prosper because God coerces people to serve him, as though God is there with a big whip driving people into service.

·         The church grows because God uses people who want to serve him, who want to include him in every area of their lives, and he takes these sorts of people and blesses them, and gives them gifts so they can minister and   bless the church.

·         People sometimes get this confused, they think they have to have gifts before they can serve, but it is the other way round, you have to be willing to serve before God will give you the gift.

·         It is our attitude to service that will speak of the reality of our walk with God. It is why we do what we do that will reveal how much we involve Christ in every decision.

·         But sometimes the complaint God will have with us is that because we are not willing to include him in all things then our service to him will be shallow, it will be unfruitful, and it may even be despised by God.

·         What did David say about the mechanics of worship he said it is the desire or the motive of the heart that God is interested in not what is done?

·         Ps 51:17  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise.

·         The inference in this text is that if your service does not come from a broken and contrite heart, from a heart filled with the right attitude to your sin and a heart that understands what Christ has done for you, a heart filled with Christ then your service will not be accepted.

·         We come to God simply with a willing heart, with a desire to serve him, wanting to include him in all things and he will give us the gifts, it is Christ through the Holy Spirit that will distribute the graces and gifts according to his good will and pleasure.

·         But first we have to be willing to serve him, willing to offer him our lives, willing to allow Christ into ever area of our lives

·         Why should we do that

·         Paul told the church at Rome – this is your reasonable service

·         Ro 12:1 ¶  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service

·         Why  when we have understood what has been obtained through the cross, when we have recognised what Christ has given us through his life then our reaction should be to reflect that love in our desire to sacrifice our lives back to him in service.

·         This was how Paul looked upon his life, he told the Corinthian church that he was compelled to serve Christ, he was duty bound to include Christ in every area of his life because he understood the love Christ had for him.

·         He understood that Christ had given him, his all on the cross, and it was his reasonable service to give Christ his all in return.

·         2Co 5:14  For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died;

·         2Co 5:15  and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

·         This word compel is a tremendous word, because what it refers to is a pressure that will cause an action. Paul said that it was the love of Christ that pressurised him into service.

·         It was his understanding of the personal love that Christ had for him that made him give all his life back to Christ –does Jesus mean that for you, does he mean that for me.

·         When the pastor or the preacher stands up and says that God has got a work for you to do in the church, we should not trivialise this, or treat it like some sort of blanket statement that is used to try and get people motivated if the cross does not motivate you nothing will.

·         But see it as an opportunity to serve - and do not think that this does not include you because from your perspective as you look at your life you cannot possibly see what you have to offer God, that as far as you can see you have not got “what you consider the necessary gifts.”

·         Did Joseph have the required gifts to rule pharaoh’s kingdom, did Moses have the necessary natural gifts to lead the 2 million people of God out of Israel, they did not, but they where willing to serve and to use the opportunities God gave them, and it was God that gave them the gifts to do this for him.

·         Remember God took 12 men some of them where ignorant Galilean fishermen and he turned the world upside down with their ministry because they where willing to put Christ first in all things.

·         Because they where compelled by the love of Christ to include him in every area of their lives.

·         Again what does it say when we go through the majority of the week without considering Christ, what would it be like if this was reversed and we realised that Christ went through the majority of the week without considering us.

·         What would it be like to think that Christ never gave his all for us because he knew we would never give our all in return, but by his grace he did give us his all,  should not his love for each of us  compel us into involving Christ in every area of your lives.

·         It is hard, it is a challenge, it is something we have to work at and do, but the more you consider his love the easier it will become. The more time you reflect on the cross the more you will involve him in everything that you do.

·         So that you will begin to put him first not just in the major things that affect our lives but also in the minor ones, in the decisions we make and do not even know we have made them.

·         So that Christ fills all our lives and every area is given back to him. And when the opportunities arise to serve him you will recognise that they are opportunities to let God work through you to his glory.

·         And because it is for his glory he will give you the grace and gifts required, because it will be for his honour and his glory.

·         So it should not only our duty but also our delight to make Christ first in all things, we need to contemplate on what Christ has done and by doing this it will compel us to serve him more.

·         His love for you will have an effect, it will pressurise you into serving him not just in the church but in every area of your life, in your marriage, in your home, in your work, in your family, in your school.

·          

·         John  the Baptist

·         We can see from our text that even the most prominent in the church, are those who make Christ central in all things.

·         Who because they are willing to put Christ first in every area of their lives they are used by God. John the Baptist was one such person – given a great elevated position by God, but he went out of his way to turn the emphasis away from himself and to point to Christ.

·         As we have said John the Baptist three times in this passage says what characterizes this thought; three times he says in different circumstances that Christ is first and foremost in his life.

·         Three time he says “ he who comes after me is preferred before me, for he was before me” vs.15, 27, & 30

·         And after each time he reveals a different reason why he must put Christ first.

·         John 1:15 ¶  John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’" 16  And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17  For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

·         The first reason for John “why Christ is first in all things” is that “all that he had was from Christ ”

·         16  And of His fullness we have all received John qualifies this statement by revealing that what he has was from the fullness of Christ.

·         In verse 14 John says that Christ was full of grace and truth, in verse 17, John the Baptist repeats this same statement.

·         The emphasis is on the fact that it is His fullness that John has shared in, it is Christ’s fullness that we have, and it is not something we have naturally, it not something we can earn or merit or achieve it is something Christ has by right and John understands that he has received it from him.

·         In the same way Paul told the church at Colossae Col 2:10  And ye are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power,

·         We are complete in him, this word means to fill up - to make full, to fill to the full

·         If we are in Christ this morning then you are filled to full capacity with the fullness of Christ. There is nothing more he can add that you do not already have. We are complete or filled to the full in Christ.

·         The reason why we do not experience this is that because we do not put him first in all things, because we often put ourselves first we miss the blessings and assurance of being filled with Christ.

·         When you think about this fullness you soon start to see that all that we have that is of any real eternal value comes from him. And it is his fullness that is his by divine right that we share in by divine grace.

·         What we share in of the fullness of Christ.

·         We share in his divinity his divine life - because when he humbled himself and took on our flesh, he did this so that he could rectify what the first Adam had done wrong.

·         He did what the first Adam could not; he lived a life without sin, without breaking any of the commands of his holy father.

·         So that as the second Adam, as God in mans flesh he could take our place. He could put right what the first Adam had done wrong.

·         We share in his life because as the second Adam he lived the life we could not, he met all the requirements of his holy father on our behalf.

·         Romans 5: 18 therefore, as through one man’s offence judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.

·         19  For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous

·         We share in his death- he hung there for our sins making peace with God for us – he bore our punishment in his own body, he became a curse for our sins, it was by the father bruising him that we can be forgiven.

·         He willing and obediently offered up to his father his very own life as a sacrifice so that through his death his father could redeem us back to himself.

·         We share in his blood because that was the ransom price for our sins; he became a sacrifice for our sin. He made peace through his blood; he appeased the father’s wrath against us by the shedding of his blood. We are cleansed by his blood.

·         As the hymn writer says “there is a fountain filled with blood, drawn from Immanuel’s veins, and sinners plunged beneath that flood, loose all their guilty stains.

·         We share in his love because his love surrounds us every moment of every day – we the unlovely are shown love, love to the loveless shown that they might lovely be, he loved us before we ever loved him, because of his love we are able to love each other.

·         We share in his faith; it is his faith in our lives that enables us to believe in his finished work on the cross. It is his faith given to us by his Spirit that enables us to understand, believe and apply all the promises of God in our lives. He is the author, sustainer and finisher of our faith.

·         We share in his Spirit, it is the comforter he sends that draws us into his kingdom, we understand all things through the Spirit, we are taught by it, and it is his spirit that reveals to us the word of God and so builds us up in the faith.

·         We share in his righteousness, we share in his glory, we share in his son-ship, he is our elder brother, we are joint heirs with him, everything we have comes out of the fullness of Christ

·         If we are in Christ this morning you are full to the limit, there is nothing left for Christ to give you because you have all the fullness of him already given you.

·         John does not stop there he goes on to develop this further –“16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace” he says we have received grace for grace, or grace upon grace, or grace over against grace.

·         It is as though he wants to emphasise what Christ has given him even more, to show just how much we have in him, we do not have simply grace, but grace upon grace upon grace never ending never ceasing.

·         Paul told the Roman that they had abundant grace –Romans 5: 17 for if by the one man’s offence death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)

·         He told the church at Ephesus that this grace was priceless and full of riches – Eph 2: 7  that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

·         He told the Corinthian that they had super abounding grace so that in this grace they had all things – 2 Cor 9: 8  And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.

·         It is not as though we have just enough grace that comes out of the fullness of Christ, but we have all grace, all sufficiency in all things – we have abundance in Christ. We are literally filled up with the grace of Christ.

·         The point that John is making is that when he says we have grace upon grace, the idea is that of a constant unceasing flow of grace. Just like the tide when it ebbs and flows, as the waves roll onto the shore, you know that they will continue to come time and time again.

·         It is unrelenting, constant nothing will stop it – making sand castles on the beach you know it would not stand the tide because of the relentless power of the waves.

·         Out of the fullness of Christ he pours his grace into your life time and time again, we have grace upon grace, never ending, never running out, never diminishing, as one wave comes and goes the next is following.

·         Both John the apostle and John the Baptist described Christ as one full of grace and truth. Not only in his character, but also as one who bestows that grace upon others.

·         This stream of love and grace is more like an ocean that flows out of the heart of Christ and straight into your life and my life

·         So what John is saying in this passage is that he is before me, Christ is first in my life because everything I have comes out of his fullness, my salvation, my peace with God, my faith in God, my knowledge of God, my righteousness, my eternal glorify, my adoption into his family, even the crown that I will receive in glory I have is because of the abundant all sufficient grace that he pours into my life.

·         Are we any different, do we not have the same Christ, are we not equally blessed with the fullness of Christ, it is his and we receive it by grace it is our gift from him.

·         That is why Paul said we are complete in him, and it is his fullness that compels us into service.

·         Conclusion

·         If we are to be effective Christians and used by God then surely we need to involve Christ in every area of our lives, it is not only our duty but it should also be our delight.

·         We do it because we know that he did not hold anything back for us, he gave us his all, he did not reserve anything for himself, and the cost for him was not for a moment but for eternity.

·         There was an eternal cost for Christ by taking our flesh, and when from the scripture we are exhorted to follow his footsteps it is because he first set the example to us.

·         For as we follow him he too followed his father, read the gospels read how he came to be obedient to his fathers commands, he came to follow where his father led him.

·         He said often I have come to do my fathers will, to do his biding, to follow his commands, to be obedient to him in every area of my life. I have come to glorify his name.

·         It was necessary that Christ involved God In every area of his life because he needed the grace of God to serve him.

·         Joh 8:28  Then Jesus said to them, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things.

·         Joh 14:10  "Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.

·         So if it was necessary for Christ to submit himself totally to God, then how much more do we need to?

·         As Henry Maxwell discovered following Jesus was more than mere head knowledge and a mental recognition, there was a cost to do this, just as there was a cost for Christ himself

·         And if we are going to be used by God, if we are going to be of any spiritual value in the church then we need to put Christ first in all things in our lives – may God give us the grace to do this.

Sunday Am                                                     12th Nov 2006

Reading: -

Prayer

Hymn: -                                              104 – O Worship the King

Reading: -                                           Psalm 35

Collection & prayer

Hymn: -                                               715 – Loved with everlasting love

Notices & prayer

Bible Reading; -                                  John 1:1-35

Hymn: -                                               518 - Come down O love divine

Word: -                                                Christ first in all things Pt1

Hymn: -                                               859 – Jesus master whose I am

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