VALIANT FOR THE TRUTH
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PREACHING CHRIST NOT OURSELVES
It is very popular in this day and age to hear Christians telling their testimonies. The purpose of sharing testimonies is to demonstrate how the Christian has changed from how he/she was before conversion as to how he/she is now as a Christian.
Often we see the most dramatic or marvelous testimonies to be those which have the most extreme before and after pictures. As if the person who used to be a drunkard before Christ is more powerfully saved than the individual who never had a drop of alcohol. Yet the truth is that there is nothing more marvelous about one person being saved above another. Because the fact is that we are all saved the same way- were saved by grace through faith in Christ alone. And we are all saved from the same thing- sin, guilt and damnation. For we are all sinners. All of us are utterly sinful, conceived in sin and at enmity with God the moment of our conception.
Psalm 51:5 tells us that we are shaped in iniquity.
Genesis 6:5 tells us that every imagination of the heart is evil continually.
Sure maybe some of us have manifested our depravity to different extents, yet the fact is that we all have the same wicked, deceitful heart with every facet of our being affected by sin.
With this line of thought, I want to challenge the popular trend that a Christians testimony is to be about ones personal experiences.
A testimony is fundamentally not about us and our experience. A testimony is about Christ and His experience on our behalf, because the only thing that we contributed to our salvation is our sin. It is easier to repeat our story which we know so well, tha n to actually be diligent students of the Scripture to tell Christs story.
The Holy Spirit has promised to accompany the Word in conversion. So when we have the opportunity to proclaim the Gospel, that is what we must proclaim---- the Gospel. For the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. We must share the Gospel in its purity when asked to give a reason for the hope that we have.
We have this idea that we should tell about our experience when the unbeliever we are speaking to needs to hear about Christs experience. So, when God gives us the opportunity to share His truth with our next door neighbor, friend from work or person on the street. Let us proclaim the Biblical message of the Crucified Son of God. Our Christian testimony bears witness to the truth of Gods Word. Let our actions be full of love and our words full of Gospel.
We must declare that what the Bible says about sinful man, the perfection and judgment of God, the righteousness and forgiveness through Christ and so on in order to share this we need to be students of the Word. We have to study to show ourselves as approved workmen, this is to make our calling and election sure.
In this busy world, where everyone wants results immediately and everything fast, we must quiet ourselves and sit at the feet of Jesus, subjecting ourselves to the truth within the pages of the Word of God. We must place all of our confidence in the truth of Gods Word. For we as Believers have been entrusted with the message of reconciliation, which is a glorious privilege. II Corinthians 5 tell us that God has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christs behalf, be ye reconciled to God."
This message is so glorious. The pondering and meditating of these truths is what stirs within us holy affections, resulting in good works, like evangelism. Let us together ponder the great truths of our salvation. We who are in Christ were saved before the creation of the world. Ephesians talks about how we were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world.
We were saved at the historical moment in time when Christ died on the cross. Christ said that it is finished, Christ satisfied the wrath of God that was against us. When we were dead in the uncircumcision of our flesh, we were quickened by Christ and all of our sins were forgiven (Col 2). We were saved in a moment in time when God regenerated us by the preaching of the Gospel accompanied with the Holy Spirit. II Thessalonians 2 tells us that God from the beginning chose us to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief in the truth. We are saved by the electing grace of God, by Gods redeeming grace, calling, justifying and sanctifying grace and by his glorifying grace.
Hear Romans 8:29-30.
"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified."
We have been saved from the guilt and control of sin in this life and from the presence of sin in the next. Christ has not saved us from sickness or unhappiness, yet He has saved us from our greatest problemour sin that separates us from a holy God. The righteousness of Christ is imputed to our account.
II Cor. 5:21 "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."
Perhaps we feel inadequate to evangelize, as if were not "good enough" Christians, yet we are not to look within, we are to look without at the glories and triumphs of our Savior. We must daily contemplate this historical truth of what happened at the cross. As Christians we never move beyond the cross, we do not need the cross any less now than before we were saved. For at the cross, Christ bore the penalty of our sin in order to bring us to God. We must remember that Christ agonized over the thought of the cross.
Michael Horton writes, "You see it wasnt the mockery and loathing of men, nor the law and judgment of Rome, that Jesus feared. We recall the messianic prophecy in the psalm concerning Judass treason: I can endure the treason of my friends, for at least you are with me, My God." And yet, on this night, the Son is alone in hell. Not even the Father is his friend. Nobody loves the Son in this hour. His heart, a reservoir of boundless joy and friendship is broken. He is the enemy both of his wicked creation and of his righteous Father.
The reason Jesus shuddered at the thought of the crucifixion had less to do with the physical torture involved (although it undoubtedly included this) than with the far greater fear of becoming everything he hated most in his deepest being. He who was the truth would become the worlds most firmly established liar. He who was to pure to look upon a woman to lust would become historys most promiscuous adulterer.
The only man who had ever loved with pure selflessness would become the most despised villain in Gods universe. He would become a racist, a murderer, a gossip, slanderer, thief, and tyrant. He would become all of this not in himself, but as the sin-bearing substitute for us.
At last, the moment came: God turned his face upon wrath toward his bleeding, dying Son, and made him drink that cup of rejection to the last drop. See here the price of your redemption: God must hate His own sinless Son, the joy of His eternal heart, so that he may love you justly.
In that moment, with the sin of the world crushing His soul, Jesus looked for the Father, with whom he had enjoyed eternal intimacy and indescribable love, and found no one there to comfort Him. Forsaken by the world because of its sin, and forsaken by His Father because he had become sin for us, Jesus cried out, My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? so that we would never have to speak those dreadful words.
No man can see me and live, God warned Moses. Yet we have seen God himself, impaled on a tree as the self-offered, curse bearing substitute for sinners, enthroned in shame and suffering. Instead of being consumed by Gods holy presence we now look to him and live-forever."
So let us look to Christ, the author and finisher of our faith. See what He endured for you and take joy in your salvation and tell others Gods glorious truth.
In proclaiming the Gospel truth let us remember that it is "as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christs behalf be reconciled to God". It is through us that this message is to be proclaimed. We are Gods mouth piece of this glorious message. Let us be bold and share the truth with others.
It is easier to tell our story than to share the story of suffering, the story of righteous blood spilt, of death and of resurrection. We are not to be ashamed of this Gospel. Remember I Corinthians 1
"It pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For the Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God."
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