Community Bible Chapel
Monday, September 16, 2019
A place to grow.... where everybody is somebody and Jesus Christ is Lord.
 4/3/16  Grasping After The Love of God In The Last Days
 

We have been working to

 “grasp the width, length, height, and depth of the love of Christ”.

-Grasping = comprehending + apprehending. 

-Grasping after it by both comprehending His love.

-Understanding the facts and concepts.

-And apprehending it by integrating those concepts

into our thinking and actions of life.

          -Our format came right out of the beginning of the study.

          -Since “God is love”, He programmed love right into His creation.

-Which makes us loving beings as well.

          -We saw the reason God placed the tree of the knowledge of good and evil

in the garden. 

                   1.  Love is a choice.

                             -The reason the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was in the

 garden was because love demands a choice to love or not.

                             -God could have created us to robotically love Him.

                             -But He didn’t, He built us with the same capacity to love that He has.

                             -And so, love has the capacity to choose to love or not.

                   2.  Failure to Love

-In Genesis 3 and in every Bible account, we see the human failure

to love.

                             -Sin has corrupted our ability to love and turned us selfish.

                   3.  Unfailing love.

                             -From beginning to end, God has proved himself with an unfailing love.

                             -It might be hard to see in the small story, but the big story context

 of those small stories makes God’s love clear.

          -We have worked our way through the OT to “grasp the love of God”.

          -In the past, we had to work to see how the small story of whatever account

we were looking at fit into God’s big redemptive story.

          -Last week, as we focused on the resurrection merged the small story to the

One big story. 

       -Today, our study takes a bit of a turn today because, for the first time since

we started, the text is not a narrative.

          -II Corinthians is a letter that the Apostle Paul writes to the church in Corinth.

 

          -Paul is writing to answer questions, correct wrong thinking, and give direction to

                   a church that was struggling.
 

          -It’s a small story account that fits into the big story, but not in the same way

as what we have studied up until now.

          -All along, we have studied the accounts of God’s Word as they pointed toward

the big redemptive story of God.

          -Now, on the other side of the resurrection, the small story, instead of pointing

to the big story, now happens because of the big story.

 
READ  II Cor. 5:16-21

       -Now, I could have chosen many passages to speak on today.

          -I picked this particular passage because it sets us into the context of

the culture we are part of.

          -Meaning that the words of Paul are just as important to us in our culture as

they were for the Corinthians in their culture.

          -It is a passage that represents the “last days” that they were part of

and we are still living in.

X “Last Days”

          The OT used the phrase “last days” to describe the days before the coming

of the Christ.

          X  -Daniel 10:14 speaks of this time.

                   “I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future

 (the last days), for the vision concerns a time yet to come.”

          -The OT focus was on the coming King and had Messianic overtones as they didn’t

 have knowledge that Jesus was going to die and come again.

          -So they spoke of the “last days” as they waited for the coming King.

          -In the NT, since we have more information, we know the phrase speaks more

specifically to the days between the first and second coming of Jesus.

X Jesus spoke to that time and gave it purpose in Luke 24:46

“The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name to all nations beginning in Jerusalem.”

          -These “last days” began with the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

          -And the purpose of these days will be to preach the gospel.

X The writer of Hebrews speaks of a change in how God speaks to us in these last days.

          Heb 1:1

“In the past (before Jesus came) God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us in His Son . . .”

 
 
 
 

X II Peter 3:3-4 helps us prepare for the events of the “last days”.

“. . . in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.  They will say, ‘Where is this coming he promised?  Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’”

          -And Peter goes on to speak of the faithfulness of God who created all things

and by the same authority, will destroy all things.

          -A humbling warning that God will judge all people.

So, you and I live in the last days as we await the return of Jesus – could be today!

          -And again, the text switches from a narrative of what happened in the past,

                   and addresses us today, living in these days.

 

X  Nature of Love – a Choice

       -The Corinthians Choice

-Paul has already brought the Gospel to Corinth and spoken of God’s big story.

-That being done, he was writing to them to teach them of their purpose

in the “last days”.
    How to view people
       -Before Christ came, people were regarded in worldly categories.

                   -Rich – poor, Jew – Gentile, liberal – Conservative, married – unmarried

black- white or green.

          -And the result of categorizing people is prejudice and separation.

          -If they don’t look like us or talk like us, then they are somehow inferior.

                   -The Jews looked down on the gentiles.

                   -The rich look down on the poor.

                   -It’s still that way today in the world.

          -Paul us urging them to put off that kind of worldly view of people because it’s

                   not productive to the Kingdom.

          -They even put Christ in a category and viewed him as a human.

                   -A good teacher or guide or prophet rather than the eternal Son of God

                             who became flesh and lived among us.

          -The right choice is spoken of in verse 17 – we are now to regard everyone in

the category of being in Christ or not being in Christ.

                   -They are either believers or they are non-believers.

          -And you might say, PJ, isn’t that still putting people into categories?

-Yes it is, but with a different motive.

-As part of our human nature, we put people in categories in order to look down

on them and lift ourselves up.

          -We tend to categorize people in order to judge or discriminate against them.

 
 

          -But now, because of the big story and because God has graciously adopted us

into his family, Paul wants us to treat people according to which they are

 – believers or non-believers.

          -Not to judge or discriminate but to know how to come along-side them.

                   -With believers, we are to come alongside with the sufficiency of the

                             Scriptures to them and help them grow to be more like Jesus.

                   -With non-believers, we are to come alongside them with the sufficiency of

                             the Scriptures and help them understand the gospel. . .

          -Either way, we are coming alongside folks with the truth of God’s Word.

          -So the choice here is to stop judging people and start seeing people the way God

 sees them and then use the appropriate Scriptures with them.

      
X Failure To Love

          -The failure to love in this passage or in these “last days” comes in a failure to

 fulfill God’s purpose in our lives. 

          -That failure is tied up in our ambassadorship.

          -Being an Ambassador means
                   X 1.  Living as a Foreigner

                             -Ambassadors live in a land not their own.

                             -And as they live in that land they have to follow the laws of the land.

                             -They have to live in a respectable way.

                             -So that when people see them, they would speak well of the land

the ambassador comes from.

                             -They must represent their homeland well.

                   -As followers of Christ, we are aliens living on earth.

                             -It is important that we represent Christ well.

                             -To live just as Christ himself would live if he were there.

                             -That involves all our thinking, acting, and speaking in a way

that is pleasing to Christ.

                             -Our goal is to live among the people of this land in such a way that

                                      they see our actions and are drawn to our Savior and King.

                             -We want them to see us and say – “wow, you must have a loving King,

I wish I could go and live in your country.”

                             -And of course, then can!

                   -Verse 20 says that God makes his appeal to a lost world through

our faithful witness.

                   -Not that we want to ram the gospel down anybody’s throat, but we are to

make a respectful and loving appeal of the gospel to all who need

to know Jesus.
 
                   X 2.  Living in Community

                             -An ambassador lives in a house or area with others from

their homeland.

                             -When one of their people acts in a way that is against the law or

                                      is not representative of their homeland, the ambassador will

                                      come alongside that person and work to correct and instruct

                                                them about being a better ambassador.

                   -And as we live among non-believers in the community of believers,

we are also to help one another continue to represent our King well.

                   -That is part of what the Body of Christ is and does.

                             -Not in judgment, but in the hope that Christ will be represented well.

-God makes us a new creation and empowers us with His Spirit to help us

                             begin to change and grow and live more like Him every day.

                   -And He is greatly honored as we do so.

-Our goal isn’t to separate into two groups, but to join God’s work in making

the two groups - one group.

-To do away with the separation. 

                   -That all would come to faith in Jesus Christ.

          X -That’s what Paul says is God’s purpose in Eph 2:14-15

“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations.  His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross.”

          -The better we grasp God’s great love, the more our desire for this world fades

 and the greater His purpose for us grows in our lives.

          -So, an individual or group of believers fail to love God and fail to love other people

through their failure to represent Him.

         
 X Unfailing Love – The Big Story

          -This passage also points to the love of God in the Big story of the Gospel.

          -Paul writes in the last verse 21.

                   “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us,

so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

          -As we have looked at time and time again, the Gospel is again front and center.

          -God’s love is the perfection of all love.

          -He took our sin upon himself so we might be reconciled to Him.

          -That is a love that we define as: 

doing what is best for the other person, not matter the cost to us.

 

          -And Jesus paid the highest possible cost to buy us back from what our

sin deserved.

          -And in love, God placed on us the righteousness of Christ.

          -He didn’t have to do that, but God did what was necessary so we might be

made righteous.

-The result of that righteousness of Christ given to us is that we

                   can go to be with Him for all eternity.

          -And in response to the question in this passage, God’s slowness in coming means

 salvation for many who still need to trust in the Savior.

          -That’s the big story and that is God’s unfailing love.

 
X Our Response to God’s love

       Our response of living in these last days is tied to God’s love for us.

X 1. Love God

          -Are we doing what we can to grasp the love of God in Christ?

          -If we are going to live well and continue to grow to be better ambassadors,

                   then grasping the love of God becomes a priority.

Phil 3:8

“I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ”

          -One thing we can do to grasp God’s love is to work at seeing that great love

in the context of the small story of the events of our lives.

 

Rather than tell you what you should do in response, allow me to use part of a story from

 Paul Tripps devotional  “New Morning Mercies.”

          -I’m just going to use the story part and then we will build on that. 

          -And you can apply it to the little story of your life this week.

-So, last week, I was in a rush and went to Stuff-Mart.

-I was about to enter into line, and this lady cut me off with a shopping

cart that was overflowing.
-She had stuff on the bottom and it was full.

          -As she began to pull the stuff out of the cart, she took the time to inspect

 each item as she put it on the belt.

          -When she finally got them all totaled up, she then, just thought to begin

 the process of getting her purse open.

          -And it was a suitcase sized purse.

                   -After digging out all the change, she began to count out

                             $259 . . . . . in one dollar bills.

         

-Then she remembered that she had a wad of coupons.

-And you know that meant the cashier had to go back and make sure

that the coupons were for the right items.

                    -That event was a small story that was lived in the context of God’s big

redemptive story to save me  . . . . from me.

-Because you know I was not being patient

– eye rolling, comments under my breath.

                   -And that takes a shift in my thinking to include God and His purpose for

me into the small story that is taking place at that moment.

                   -That event was God’s grace to help me learn about His love,

not to make me wait, but to help me wait upon Him.

X 2.  Personal holiness

          -I Thes 4:3 says “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified”

          -As we live in these last days, God’s goal for me is that I would be growing.

          -And He uses the small events of my life to be overwhelmed by

His really big story.

          -I Cor 13 says that “love is patient”.

                   -Just what I needed in the grocery store line.

                   -That event was God’s grace to me to help me grow in personal

                             holiness by growing in His kind of patient love.

          -And we could talk about kindness, grace, and a host of other things.

X 3.Love others

                   -Because of God’s great love for us and His calling on our lives,

our focus in these “last days” has to be on loving others.

                   -Since God is love, He is calling us to be the ambassador of His love.

                   -He has left it up to us to make His appeal to a lost world,

                              that their sin can be reconciled in Christ.

                   -That means that I might make myself later by helping that woman

 in the grocery store to load her groceries into her car.

                   -And while I’m doing that I would be seeking her forgiveness for all the

things I said about her under my breath (loud enough for the whole

          store to hear) while I was standing in line.

                   -And that would open the door for me to be talking about the hope of the

 gospel and how she can know the joy of the Lord and the forgiveness

 of sin through trusting in Jesus.
 

          -Then I’d be hitting the target and growing to be the ambassador

that God has purposed my life to be.

 
          Bulls-eye!

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