This Week's Gospel Sermons
October - December 2011 Fall Series At Jackson Drive.
"MIRACLES OF JESUS"
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October 30, 2011
What’s in it for Me?
“What do I get out of it?”or “What’s in it for me?” are two questions often asked when an individual is asked to complete some particular demand. It seems that since this response is so frequent, that it must be a sort of “built-in” or natural response. However, being a faithful Christian involves a different response.
The “good neighbor,” the Samaritan of Jesus’ narrative recorded in Luke 10, proved Jesus’ stipulation of discipleship—to place other’s needs ahead of our own. In fact, in this same conversation, Jesus and the lawyer speak about the two great commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27). Many other scriptures tell us the same thing.
Love drives everything. If we love God, we love our fellows. If we can’t love others, how can we love God? (1John 4:17-21). Jesus Himself said, “If you love Me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15). John emphasizes this again in his letter, “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.” (1John 5:1-3).
It is somewhat ironic that when we have the attitude of “What can I do to serve God?” and “What can I do for others?” that then we DO “get something out of it.” In 1John 2:3, John gives a strong reason for keeping commandments of God: “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.” This was written to Christians. One does not know God who does not keep His commandments. If anyone claims to know God but does not keep His commandments, they are liars (1John 2:4).
Evidently the gnostics of the first century subscribed to some teachings which conveyed the idea that sin in the lives of Christians did not really condemn them. That is, they did not have to abide within the commandments of God to have fellowship with God. That doctrine is popular in some quarters even to this day.
Several years ago a denominational preacher by the name of Sam Morris preached over the radio this message and put the message in a tract, “Do A Christian’s Sins Damn His Soul?,” saying: “We take the position that a Christian’s sins do not damn his soul. The way a Christian lives, what he says, his character, his conduct, or his attitude toward other people have nothing whatever to do with the salvation of his soul.” Then he later said in the same tract: “All the prayers a man may pray, all the Bibles he may read, all the churches he may belong to, all the services he may attend, all the sermons he may practice, all the debts he may pay, all the ordinances he may observe, all the laws he may keep, all the benevolent acts he may per form will not make his soul one whit safer; and all the sins he may commit from idolatry to murder will not make his soul in any more danger … The way a man lives has nothing what soever to do with the salvation of his soul.” It is not possible to have a message any more in opposition to the words of the Spirit given through John.
Of course the keeping of commandments must be accompanied with the right attitude or the whole thing is little more than legalism. Nevertheless, as we have noted, there are benefits, in multitude, which come from the keeping of God’s commandments.
Keeping God’s commandments—what’s in it for me?
This is the way we know Him.“By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him;” (1John 2:3-4).
The benefit is that this shows perfection of love in His children. “but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” (1John 2:5-6).
In keeping commandments, one abides in Him and can continue. “The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.” (1John 3:24). “The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” (1John 2:17).
This is the means of showing (proving) love. “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.” (1John 5:3). “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15).
Showers of blessings follow. “And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.” (Revelation 22:7). “But he said to me, “Do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God.” (Revelation 22:9). “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.” (Revelation 1:3).
This gives access to the tree of life. “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city.” (Revelation 22:14).
It frees one from sin in conjunction with grace, love, and blood. “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.” (1Peter 3:18-22).
Keeping the commandments of God—what’s in it for me? Anything and everything that matters. How well do we keep His commandments?
—S. Scott Richardson Sr.