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Jurnalul Electronic Al Păstorilor, Rom Ed 12, Editia de vară 2014

Ediţia de Vară 2014

Produs de ...

Dr. Roger Pascoe, Preşedinte,

The Institute for Biblical Preaching

Cambridge, Ontario, Canada

www.tibp.ca

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“Întărind Biserica în Predicare Biblică şi Conducere”

Partea I: Pregătirea Pentru Predicare

“Alegerea textelor şi a subiectelor”

De: Dr. Roger Pascoe

The Institute for Biblical Preaching,

Cambridge, Ontario, Canada

În ultima ediţie a Jurnalului Electronic al Pastorilor am privit la câteva principii biblice şi practici utile pentru alegerea textelor şi a subiectelor de predică. În această ediţie doresc să continui această discuţie prezentând

Câteva Proceduri Utile De Alegere A Textelor

1. Pune-ţi câteva întrebări teologice1

a) Acopăr întreaga anvergură a învățăturii biblice? – Vechiul și Noul Testament, narațiunile istorice, literatura de înțelepciune, Evangheliile, epistolele etc.?

b) Acopăr întreaga arie de doctrine biblice? – Dumnezeu, omul, păcatul, salvarea, cerul și iadul etc.?

c) Mă ocup de întreaga arie de aplicații biblice? – pentru tineri și bătrâni, părinți și copii, bărbați și femei, biserică și comunitate?

2. Pune-ți câteva întrebări practice

a) Pe ce s-a pus accent în predicarea din ultima vreme, în biserică?

b) Ce evenimente spirituale și situații au avut loc în biserică în ultima vreme?

c) Care este starea spirituală a oamenilor, chiar acum?

d) De ce adevăr este nevoie astfel încât oamenii să fie întăriți?

e) Există vreun anumit adevăr specific pe care biserica trebuie neapărat să-l audă?

3. Ține seama de valoarea predicării unei serii de mesaje din cărțile biblice

Predicarea unei serii de mesaje din cărțile biblice urmează textul așa cum a fost scris de autorul biblic, sub inspirație divină. Este adevărat că nu studiezi o altă carte așa cum procedează unii predicatori atunci când își aleg textele de predică – săptămâna aceasta un paragraf dintr-o carte, săptămâna viitoare un paragraf din altă parte, sau citirea concluziei înaintea narațiunii.

Dacă predici în mod consecvent dintr-o carte, audiența va înțelege mesajele în contextul lor.

Seriile de mesaje pe cărți îți oferă ocazia să predici și tematic pe măsură ce abordezi o anumită secțiune din Biblie. De exemplu poți alege subiecte din cadrul predicilor tale de care nu te poți ocupa într-un singur mesaj, iar apoi să le dezvolți în predici individuale.

Seriile de mesaje pe cărți biblice ajută la o mai mare alfabetizare biblică în cadrul comunității în care slujești. Ai posibilitatea să prezinți oamenilor aspectele introductive și elementele hermeneutice ale cărții. Vei ajunge să-i înveți teologia biblică a cărții. Oamenii vor avea ocazia să vadă unde se încadrează cartea respectivă în narațiunea răscumpărării.

Seriile de mesaje pun la dispoziția adunării un context solid pentru înțelegerea mesajelor care fac parte din seria respectivă. Ei pot studia textul pe măsură ce predici și astfel să obțină o mai mare înțelegere asupra acestuia. Știu de unde urmează să predici săptămâna viitoare, lucru care le oferă o anumită coerență a mesajelor. Înțeleg cum se potrivesc mesajele unul cu altul și au ocazia să înțeleagă adevărurile teologice esențiale regăsite într-o anumită carte biblică.

Seriile de mesaje maximizează folosirea timpului alocat pentru studiu. Contextul și diversele elemente introductive ale cărții trebuie să fie studiate și explicate audienței o singură dată.

Seriile de mesaje pot fi abordate în mod diferit. Poți începe cu Geneza și apoi să avansezi în Scriptură sau poți echilibra predicarea din Vechiul cu cea din Noul Testament. Altă variantă este alternezi între Evanghelii și Epistole, Lege și Istorie, Psalmi și literatura de înțelepciune, între Profeție și literatura apocaliptică. Poți prezenta seriile de mesaje în moduri diferite:

  • Tematic, doctrinar, sau teologic;
  • Paragraf cu paragraf, sau capitol cu capitol;
  • Textele cheie dintr-o anumită carte biblică;
  • Secțiunile cheie (de exemplu, triada de 7 care apare în Evanghelia după Ioan – 7 discursuri, 7 semne, 7 afirmații „Eu sunt”);
  • O privire de ansamblu asupra întregii cărți, într-un singur mesaj;
  • Studiul personajelor sau al evenimentelor istorice.

4. Ține seama de valoarea varietății și a felxibilității în alegerea textelor

Chiar dacă predici o serie de mesaje dintr-o carte biblică, nu înseamnă că doar asta vei predica. Adaugă varietate predicării prin prezentarea mai multor serii de mesaje la un moment dat, sau prin amestecul de mesaje de sine stătătoare cu seriile de mesaje. De exemplu, ai putea avea o serie de mesaje pentru serviciile dedicate celebrării Cinei Domnului, o altă serie în cadrul serviciilor de duminică dimineața, și o altă serie în cadrul întâlnirilor de duminică seara.

Alte posibilități de asigurare a varietății: studii biografice, studii tematice, aspecte sociale, studii despre ucenicie și creștere spirituală, servicii de evanghelizare.

Flexibilitatea și varietatea au avantaje clare: păstrează interesul oamenilor și înlătură plictiseala, asigură un echilibru în lucrare, asigură prospețime predicatorului și îl ține pe acesta deschis față de Duhul Sfânt.

5. Ține seama de darurile tale spirituale

Predicarea trebuie să fie exercitată în cadrul tuturor nevoilor lucrării din biserică. S-ar putea să fie nevoie de ajutorul altor predicatori în zone în care nu ai daruri spirituale (de exemplu, evanghelizarea). În modul acesta biserica se va bucura de beneficiile aduse printr-o varietate de daruri de predicare.

6. Ține seama reperele timpului

Datorită faptului că timpul este foarte prețios pentru un pastor este bine să cauți un echilibru între predicarea mesajelor noi și a vestirea mesajelor pregătite în mod parțial cu o altă ocazie, dar care nu au fost predicare niciodată, sau a mesajelor pe care le-ai mai predicat și înainte. În felul acesta vei echilibra timpul alocat pentru pregătirea unor noi mesaje (cel mai îndelungat) cu timpul mult mai scurt necesar pregătirii unor mesaje mai vechi.

În săptămânile în care ești foarte aglomerat cu evenimente neplanificate (de ex. înmormântările) s-ar putea să fie nevoie să ceri ajutorul altcuiva pentru predicare, sau să predici un mesaj pe care l-ai mai prezentat și înainte.

7. Ține seama de următoarele întrebări:

a) Cum simți că te călăuzește Dumnezeu să predici pentru această ocazie?

b)Ce text și subiect sunt necesare pentru această ocazie specifică?

c) Ce aspect din revelația lui Dumnezeu este necesar și potrivit să fie predicat în această circumstanță?

8. Ține seama de următoarele linii călăuzitoare:

a) Dacă ai decis să predici o serie de mesaje, alegerea textului s-ar putea să fie determinată fie de următorul paragraf din cartea respectivă, fie de următoarea doctrină, dacă este vorba despre o serie de mesaje teologice sau tematice. Oricare ar fi situația, stabilește cât de lungă ar trebui să fie acea serie de predici. Este probabil înțelept să nu aloci unei serii de predici mai mult de 10-12 săptămâni, cu excepția cazului în care seria respectivă este întreruptă de mesaje susținute cu alte ocazii.

b) Dacă ai decis să predici mesaje tematice, alege textul în așa fel încât acesta să prezinte plenar fiecare temă sau doctrină avută în discuție. În felul acesta vei expune textul respectiv, apoi vei face referire și la alte texte potrivite, mai degrabă decât să sari de la un text la altul fără a avea un pasaj primar. Un text primar va pune la dispoziție un accent textual pentru studiu, mai degrabă decât un accent tematic. S-ar putea ca audiența să uite celelalte texte la care ai făcut referire, dar este foarte posibil să-și amintească textul primar din care ai predicat.

9. Ține seama de următoarele granițe:

a) Granița unității literare a textului (un paragraf sau capitol, sau chiar câteva capitole, dacă este vorba despre o narațiune lungă). Când alegi textul, asigură-te că alegi o unitate literară. Trebuie să cunoști care sunt diviziunile textului în cadrul acelui tip de literatură. Asigură-te că te ocupi de o unitate textuală completă. Pune-ți următoarele întrebări:

  • în ce fel este acest text cu adevărat o unitate literară, un paragraf unitar?
  • Are el o temă clară și specifică?
  • Are acel text o temă sau gând complet în cadrul contextului său?

b) Granița genului literar. Genul literar determină modul în care vei interpreta și vei aplica un anumit pasaj.

c) Granița sensului originar intenționat de autor. Nu alege în mod arbitrar un text, făcându-l să spună ceea ce nu intenționează să spună – acesta este un abuz. Fii cinstit și credincios față de sensul inițial pe care autorul textului a încercat să-l transmită. S-ar putea ca predica să se focalizeze asupra unei secțiuni dintr-o unitate literară, sau să combine câteva unități, însă orice ai alege trebuie să știi cum se încadrează în unitatea literară mare, și ce mesaj a încercat să transmită autorul în cadrul acestei unități.

Concluzie

Alegerea textului este punctul de început în ceea ce privește pregătirea unei predici. După ce ai ales textul poți să decizi cât de mult din el vei citi în cadrul serviciului divin, când va fi citit, cine îl va citi. Roagă-te. Veghează. Cunoaște bine textul. Cunoaște-i pe oameni. Cunoaște ocazia în care predici. Fii sensibil față de Duhul Sfânt.

Partea II: Conducere: Să Fii Un Model De Slujitor Evlavios

“Supunerea ta față de Duhul Sfânt,” Pt. 2

În ediția de primăvară 2014 a Jurnalului Electronic al Pastorilor am început un studiu pe Efeseni 5:18-6:20, cu subiectul „Supunerea ta față de Duhul Sfânt”. În acea ediție am privit la „Semnificația unei vieți pline de Duhul Sfânt” (Ef. 5:18), iar în această ediție vom continua studiul și vom avea în vedere…

Necesitatea Unei Vieți Pline De Duhul Sfânt

Poate că întrebi de ce este umplerea cu Duhul o necesitate? În primul rând, umplerea este o necesitate deoarece o poruncește Cuvântul lui Dumnezeu. Observați că este vorba despre un imperativ: Fiți plini! (Ef. 5:18). C.H. Spurgeon a spus că „aceasta nu este o promisiune pe care să o așteptăm, ci o poruncă pe care să o ascultăm.” De vreme ce aceasta este o poruncă de la Domnul, neîmplinirea ei înseamnă păcat. În al doilea rând, este o necesitate deoarece o pretinde lucrarea lui Dumnezeu. Când Petru predica în Fapte 4:8, el a fost plin de Duhul Sfânt. Tot astfel, Ștefan (Fapte 7:55) și Pavel (Fapte 13:9). Predicarea eficientă este produsul mesagerului plin de Duhul și a Cuvântului inspirat de Duhul, lucrând împreună spre a produce o viață transformată de Duhul. Dacă vrem să fim eficienți în lucrarea lui Dumnezeu, trebuie să fim plini de Duhul Sfânt.

Realitatea Unei Vieți Pline De Duhul Sfânt

Cum este posibil ca umplerea cu Duhul să fie o realitate în viața mea? Poate să fie o realitate prin acceptarea inițială a controlului exercitat de Duhul Sfânt. Observați că se folosește diateza pasivă: fiți plini lăsați ca Duhul Sfânt să vă umple, să vă controleze; acceptați conducerea Duhului Sfânt, nu să avem noi mai mult din El, ci El să aibă mai mult din noi.

Întâlnim un prezent continuu: Continuați să fiți plini… Aceasta nu este o experiență o dată in viață, așa cum este locuirea și botezul cu Duhul, care au loc o singură dată la convertire. Umplerea cu Duhul trebuie să fie o realitate continuă în viața noastră. Este posibil să fie o realitate continuă în viața mea prin dependența continuă față de controlul Duhului Sfânt. Dependența continuă față de Duhul înseamnă să nu-l întrisătm pe Duhul Sfânt (Ef. 4:30). Realitatea umplerii cu Duhul se poate realiza prin ștergerea din viața noastră a oricărui lucru care îl întristează pe Duhul lui Dumnezeu. Deci, nu trebui să îngăduim existența păcatului în viața noastră – este nevoie să-l răstignim (Gal. 5:24). Omoară „eul” din viața ta – pune-l pe cruce, dându-l astfel la o parte (Col. 2:14). Fii sensibil față de păcat tot așa cum ochiul este sensibil față de mizerie. Nu putem umbla în Duhul, dacă nu conștientizăm imediat când îl întristăm pe Duhul. Trebuie să ne mărturisim păcatele imediat – numește-l și răstignește-l (1 Ioan 1:9).

Dependența continuă de controlul Duhului înseamnă să nu stingem Duhul (1 Tes. 5:19). Putem fi plini de Duhul atunci când nu permitem ca ceva din viața noastră să stingă Duhul. Nu stinge focul Duhului luând pentru tine din gloria lui Dumnezeu, sau înlăturând lucrarea Duhului și înlocuind-o cu lucrarea propriei tale firi.

În sfârșit, dependența continuă de controlul Duhului înseamnă să fim plini de Duhul (Ef. 5:18). Adică, să-i permitem Duhului Sfânt să-și facă lucrarea în noi – să te învețe, să te ilumineze, să te mângâie, să te călăuzească, să te convingă de păcat. Rezultatul acestor lucrări va fi manifestarea în viața noastră a „roadei Duhului” (Gal. 5:22).

Partea III: Gânduri Devoționale

“Mana de dimineaţă”

De: Stephen F. Olford

Continuăm să prezentăm gândurile Dr. Stephen Olford referitoare la necesitatea practicării și menținerii unei vieți devoționale vibrante, așa cum sunt ele prezentate în broșura „Mana de dimineață”. Data trecută am publicat prima parte din această broșură, unde de vorbește despre motivația și cerințele necesare pentru practicarea unui timp de părtășie cu Dumnezeu. Acum, abordăm a doua parte.

„Asigură-te că vii la timpul devoțional cu un duh de așteptare. Cred că o astfel de atitudine de așteptare are la bază cel puțin trei factori.

În primul rând există factorul fizic. Nu poți merge la culcare la orice oră din noapte, iar apoi să te aștepți să fii treaz și proaspăt de dimineață. Ca să poți merge la culcare la o oră corespunzătoare este nevoie de disciplină; există probabil moduri plăcute de a-ți petrece timpul și de a socializa, dar ele nu sunt la fel de prețioase și de importante precum timpul de părtășie cu Dumnezeu.

Apoi, atitudinea de așteptare este determinată și de un factor moral. „Dacă aș fi cugetat lucruri nelegiuite în inima mea, nu m-ar fi ascultat Domnul.” (Ps. 66:18). Când există ceva în viața ta, împotriva voii lui Dumnezeu, nu te aștepta să ai părtășie cu El. dacă ai ceva împotriva acestei persoane, sau aceleia, lasă-ți darul la altar și du-te de împacă-te cu el.

De asemenea, mai există și un factor spiritual implicat în această chestiune a așteptării. Acest factor este descris în Ioan 7:17: „Dacă vrea cineva să facă…va ajunge să cunoască dacă învățătura…” – adică, va cunoaște învățătura. Revelația și ascultarea sunt ca două linii paralele. Pe măsură ce ascuți, tot așa se revelează și Dumnezeu. Când încetezi să asculți și El încetează să se reveleze.

Experiența mea este aceasta: când am încercat să mă rog și să citesc Cuvântul și am descoperit că este imposibil „să fac față”, ca să spunem așa, Biblia fiind ca o carte moartă pentru mine, m-am examinat și mi-am dat seama că exista un aspect în care nu am fost ascultător față de Domnul. Așadar, înainte de a continua cu timpul meu devoțional, a trebuit să-mi pun lucrurile în rânduială cu Domnul.

Am privit la motivația care stă la baza timpului de părtășie cu Dumnezeu, apoi la cerințele care sunt necesare. Permiteți-mi acum să împărtășesc cu dumneavoastră câteva reguli simple care pe mine mă ajută în întâlnirea zilnică cu Domnul.

Prima regulă este să aștepți. Samuel Chadwick spunea că „graba este moartea rugăciunii.” Poți să primești mai mult de la Domnul în cinci minute petrecută fără grabă, decât în treizeci și cinci de minute petrecute cu ochii pe ceas.

Fii liniștit în prezența Sa. Așteaptă până când gloria prezenței Sale pare să vină peste tine. Caută să fii focalizat. Caută curățirea și iluminarea de la Duhul. Mai presus de toate, caută să intri în mod conștient în prezența lui Dumnezeu.

De la așteptare, treci la citire. Citește din Cuvântul lui Dumnezeu. Cred și eu ca George Muller că nu poți să te rogi niciodată corect, înainte ca Domnul să-ți fi vorbit din Cuvântul Său. Când mă refer la citire, am în vedere, desigur, pasajul biblic rezervat pentru ziua respectivă. Dumnezeu să te ferească de metoda „deschiderii Bibliei la întâmplare.” O asemenea practică este o jignire adusă la adresa caracterului sacru al Cuvântului lui Dumnezeu.

Citește pasajul biblic cel puțin de trei ori. Citește-l cu atenție pentru a descoperi mesajul general. Apoi, caută să identifici aspecte speciale din acel text. În sfârșit, caută să-l studiezi găsind mesajul textului la nivel personal.

Treci, apoi, de la citire la reflectare sau meditație. Privește pasajul în prezența lui Dumnezeu.

Spune: „Domne, acum când privesc în acest pasaj în dimineața aceasta, este vreo poruncă pe care trebuie să o ascult? Este vreo promisiune pe care trebuie să mă bazez? Este vreun gând nou pe care trebuie să-l urmez? Este vreun păcat de care trebuie să mă feresc? Găsesc vreo idee nouă despre Dumnezeu, despre Domnul Isus, despre Duhul Sfânt, sau chiar despre cel rău?” Caută să înțelegi ce îți vorbește Dumnezeu din pasajul pe care l-ai citit.

De la meditație continuă cu ceea ce eu numesc înregistrare. Ia acel caiet pe care-l păstrezi doar pentru timpul devoțional și notează ce ți-a vorbit Dumnezeu. Formulează întotdeauna ideile la nivel personal și cu o atitudine de închinare. Așează în scris lucrurile în așa fel încât să fie vorba despre un mesaj adresat sufletului tău.

Acum roagă-te. Rugăciunea din cadrul timpului personal de părtășie cu Dumnezeu are trei aspecte. Întâi de toate este vorba despre ajustare. Ia mesajul pe care Domnul ți l-a dat – mesajul notat pe scurt în caietul tău – și roagă-te, direcționând acel mesaj înapoi spre Dumnezeu. Acesta este unul din secretele care fac ca rugăciunile tale să fie vii și proaspete. Roagă-te până când voia lui Dumnezeu devine voia ta, cu referire la mesajul specific prin care Domnul ți-a vorbit.

Apoi, adoră-l pe El. Varsă-ți sufletul înaintea Lui. Mulțumește-I. Gândește-te la maiestatea, la gloria și îndurarea care sunt revelate în lumina prezenței Sale. Vorbește ca un copil cu tatăl său, ca un rob cu stăpânul său. Și ascultă – așa cum cineva o ascultă pe persoana iubită.

Abia după toate acestea ajungi la cereri. Vino înaintea Domnului cu cereri nu doar pentru tine, ci și pentru alții. Mijlocește pentru alții.

După rugăciune, mai sunt încă doi pași importanți în contextul timpului devoțional. Unul este cel al împărtășirii. Împărtășește mesajul lui Dumnezeu cu o anumită persoană – în ziua respectivă.

Împărtășim lucrurile pe care le iubim și păstrăm ceea ce împărtășim. Mana pe care poporul lui Dumnezeu o aduna în fiecare zi trebuia să fie împărțită și consumată. Ceea ce era pus deoparte făcea viermi și se împuțea. Întotdeauna poți să-ți dai seama de persoanele care-și fac rezerve din ceea ce primesc în timpul devoțional.

Cel mai important pas este să asculți. Ridică-te de pe genunchi și spune: „Doamne Isuse, acum când încep o nouă zi, te rog ca prin puterea Duhului să-mi dai harul de a pune în practică ceea ce mi-ai vorbit în această dimineață.” Apoi, continuă să-ți trăiești ziua ascultând de Domnul.

Cele mai bune lucruri pe care Domnul le are pentru tine sunt strâns legate de această întâlnire zilnică cu El. Barometrul vieții tale creștine poate fi observat privind la modul în care tratezi timpul zilnic de părtășie cu Domnul.

Nu poți să îmi spui că te-ai predat lui Dumnezeu, că Isus Hristos este Domnul vieții tale sau că ai parte de plinătatea Duhului Sfânt, decât dacă ai parte de mana de dimineață.

Partea IV: Schițe De Predici

Ioan 13:12-17, Isus vorbește cu ucenicii Săi

Pentru versiunile audio ale acestor predici, dă click pe aceste linkuri: Link 1 - Ioan. 13:12-13, Pt. 6; Link 2 - Ioan. 13:14-17, Pt. 7

Titlu: Adevărata Slujire (continuare – vezi Ediția de Primăvară 2014 pentru punctele 1 și 2)

Punctul #3: Trebuie să imităm natura adevăratei slujiri (12-17)

1. Amintindu-ne că Domnul este Stăpânul nostru (12-13, 16)

2. Făcând unii pentru alții ceea ce Isus a făcut pentru noi (14-15)

3. Practicând ceea ce predicăm (17)


1 Adaptare după Sinclair B. Ferguson, “Exegesis,” in Preacher and Preaching: Reviving the Art in the Twentieth century, Samuel T. Logan, Jr., ed., (Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1986), 197, citat  în Anointed, 91-92.

Related Topics: Pastors

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Intangiriro

      Ubutunzi bw’ukuri kw’Imana

2 Timoteyo 1:13-14 “Ujye ukomeza icyitegererezo cy'amagambo mazima wanyumvanye, ugikomereshe kwizera n'urukundo rubonerwa muri Kristo Yesu. Ikibitsanyo cyiza wabikijwe, ukirindishe Umwuka Wera utubamo.

Pawulo yasobanuye Butumwa Imana yamuhaye nk' “ ikibitsanyo wabikijwe” (2 Timoteyo 1:13-14). Aha Intumwa iratwibutsa ko ubu Butumwa, Ubutumwa bwerekeye Umwami Yesu bwo kugeza abantu mu mibanire n'Imana Ihoraho igenga isi, ari ubukungu (ikibitsanyo) n'ibyiringiro. Biragaragara ko ari ubutumwa bugeza mu bwami bw'Imana bwonyine, bwunga abantu n'Imana (Yohana 14:6; 4:12), bunabaha ubugingo buhoraho kandi ubugingo bwinshi (Yohana 10:10) ni ubukungu butagira akagero n'izahabu y'agaciro (Matayo 13:44-46). Ubutumwa bwiza ni cyo kintu cy'agaciro umuntu ashobora gutunga, ariko nk'ikintu cy'agaciro muri twe, kinakeneye no kurindwa. Kuki? Kubera ko hari Ubutumwa bw'ibinyoma bashaka kubwiza ab'imitima yoroshye mu bihendo bya Satani (Abagalatiya 1:69; Yuda 3-4).

Ariko mu gihe bugomba kurindwa, ntibugomba guhishwa. Ni ubutumwa bugomba kuvugwa cyangwa kubwirwa abandi mu buryo busobanutse kandi bw'ukuri. Muri ubwo buryo, ni ikibitsanyo twabikijwe ngo tukigeze ku bandi. Bityo, muri 2 Timoteyo 2:2, Timoteyo afite inshingano yo kumenyesha abantu bo kwizerwa ibyo yigiye kuri Pawulo ngo nabo bashobore kubyigisha abandi maze bikomeze bityo.

2 Timoteyo 2:2 “ Kandi ibyo wanyumvanye imbere y'abahamya benshi, ubimenyeshe abantu bo kwizerwa bazashobora kubyigisha abandi.”

Uyu ni umurimo wo kugwiza ubugingo mu by'Umwuka. Reba ukuntu aha ibisekuru bine bivugwa. Pawulo kuri Timoteyo, ku bantu bo kwizerwa no ku bandi nabo. Ibi biroroshye cyane ariko imbuto ziteye ubwoba. Nuzana umuntu umwe ku Mwami buri mwaka maze ukigisha umuntu kugendana na Kristo no kwera imbuto na we ubwe agakora atyo, uko muri babiri mugakomeza mutyo muzana abandi babiri (buri muntu umwe) umwaka ukurikiyeho muzakomeza kugenda mwikuba kabiri uko umwaka utashye. Mbese uzi umubare w'abantu bazaba bamaze kugera kuri Kristo mukomeje mutyo nyuma y'imyaka 20? Mu mpera z'umwaka wa 20, inyuma yawe hazaba hari abantu 1,048,576.130

      Ingorane duhura na zo

Bisa n'aho abantu benshi batekereza ko guhindura abandi abigishwa (kugeza abantu ku gakiza no kububaka muri Kristo) ari umurimo w’abantu bihariye nk'abamisiyoneri, abapasitoro, n'abakorana n'urubyiruko, kandi ko bo umurimo wabo ari ukubafasha gusa mu gukora uwo murimo w'Imana. Hari ibintu byinshi byateye igitekerezo nk’iki cy'abakozi b'Imana/abakristo basanzwe, ariko iyo ngingo ni igitekerezo cy'ibinyoma kandi si icya Bibiliya namba. Aho kugira ngo abantu bamenye iby'uko umwizera ari umutambyi ukora umurimo w'Imana (1 Petero 2:510), bahindutse indorerezi gusa aho kuba abafatanije n'abandi umurimo. Mu yandi magambo, 2 Timoteyo 1:14 na 2:2 hatwereka gahunda y'umurimo w'Imana ku bw'umubiri wa Kristo kandi abizera bashobora kugira uruhare muri ibi ibabaye baboneka. Rumwe mu ruhare rw'ingenzi rw'uwitwa ko ari umupasitoro cyangwa pasitoro-mukuru ni nk'abatoza b'ikipe batoza abandi umurimo w'Imana wo kubaka umubiri wa Kristo (Abefeso 4:11-16).

Mu Abefeso 4:12 herekana ibintu bitatu Pasitoro agomba gukora nk’uko KJV ishobora gutuma bamwe babitekereza, ni ukuvuga, kugira ngo abera batunganirizwe rwose gukora umurimo wo kugabura iby'Imana no gukomeza umubiri wa Kristo. Ibyanditswe mu Kigiriki byashobora neza kurushaho gusobanurwa ngo “kubwo (pros) gutegurira abera iby' (eis) umurimo w'Imana mu (eis) kwubaka umubiri wa Kristo ” (Aha ni jye usobanura). Umugambi wa Pawulo wari uwo gusobanura umurimo wuzuye ukuza abandi, ufite intego igenewe kubyara umubiri ukura mu bwiza (gukura mu Mwuka no guhama dusa na Kristo), mu bwinshi (abantu baza kuri Kristo), no mu ngingo (abantu baza mu murimo w'Imana - abakuru, abadiyakoni, abigisha, n'abandi).

Kuba ibisonga byiza by'ibyo twabikijwe by'ukuri kw'Imana si icyagenewe abantu bake bihariye, ahubwo ni umuhamagaro wacu nk'abizera Kristo.

      Gukura kw'Itorero rya mbere

Nyuma y'urupfu, kuzuka, no kuzamurwa mu ijuru bya Kristo no kuza k'Umwuka Wera w'Imana kuri Pentekote, byagendekeye bite itorero? Ryarakuze cyane kandi n'imbaraga nyinshi. Ibyabaye byatwandikiwe mu gitabo cy'Ibyakozwe. Mbere tubona abigishwa 11 bateranye n'Umwami, hanyuma ba bandi 120 mu cyumba cyo hejuru, hanyuma 3,000, hanyuma gato, Umwami yongereye abandi 5,000 ku itorero.

Ntibyari ukwongera gusa ahubwo byari ukugwiza kubw'umurimo n'umubiri bya Kristo hamwe n’abantu benshi bahindukiriraga Umwami kandi bakiyongera ku itorero, umubiri wa Kristo.

Ugukura kw'itorero ntikwahagaririye aho. Mu binyejana byinshi, itorero rya Yesu Kristo ryakomeje gukura, kandi igitangaje cyane ni uko ryakuriye no mu banyamahanga, mu barirwanya, no mu mico y'abatize n'abize. Muri uku gukura ku isi yose, itorero ryarakuze kandi riranesha, nubwo hari abagambanyi, ukuyoba, gutotezwa, amapfa, kwicishwa inkota, gutwika za Bibiliya, gushyirwa mu rwobo rw'intare, gutwikirwa ku karubanda n'ibindi.

Nk'uko Umwami Yesu yabivuze muri Matayo 16:18 ati “Nanjye ndakubwira: uri Petero, kandi nzubaka itorero ryanjye kuri urwo rutare,(avuga umurimo We ubwe) kandi amarembo y'i kuzimu ntazarishobora.”

Biragaragara ko itorero ryakuze mu buryo butandukanye, ariko nk'uko Wyn na Karoli Arn babivuga, “...hari inzira imwe ryakuzemo neza, mu buryo bwihuse kurushaho, kandi mu buryo bukomeye. Kuva mu itangiriro ryaryo, mu binyejana byose uko byakurikiranye kugeza umunsi wa none, inzira imwe yagize uruhare mu gukura kw'itorero kurusha izindi zose. Ni mu byerekeye ubu buryo - kandi ingaruka igufitiye wowe n'itorero iri muri uru rutonde rw’amasomo y`ivugabutumwa no guhindura abandi abigishwa, ikaba inshingano ikomeye y'itorero.131

      Itorero muri iki gihe

Inshingano y'itorero ntiyahindutse. Inshingano yahawe itorero rya mbere iracyari inshingano y'itorero ryo mu kinyejana cya 20. Ariko ibintu ntibiraba byiza nubwo ubushobozi bw'ivugabutumwa no guhindura abandi abigishwa mu isi yose butigeze bukura kurushaho. Mu mpande za buri torero na buri muryango wa gikristo buri hantu hari abantu bashobora gukizwa bategereje gusa kubwirwa. Ariko se twumva dute Inshingano twahawe, ibikoresho dufite, n'uburyo bwa Bibiliya bukora neza, ariko akenshi bikirengagizwa?

Ibarura ritubwira ko hafi y’abantu 75 ku ijana mu itorero bahuguriwe gukora umurimo w'ivugabutumwa, naho 2% gusa akaba ari bo bonyine bakora uwo murimo w'ivugabutumwa. Abantu babiri b'abahanga mu ivugabutumwa no guhindura abandi abigishwa kandi bazengurutse Amerika yose batanga ibiganiro, babaza abantu, bavugana n'abayobozi b'itorero n'abakristo basanzwe, kandi bumva uko Amerika ihumeka ni Wyn na Karoli Arn. Mu gitabo cyabo, Umugambi wa databuja wo guhindura abantu abigishwa (The Master's Plan forDisciples), berekana ibintu byinshi bigaragaza itorero ryo muri Amerika.132

(1) Kugeza Ubutumwa ku batari abakristo bishyirwa inyuma muri menshi mu matorero n'abantu. Ibyigeze kuba gutera kw'umutima mu itorero rya mbere byaretse cyane kuba ibanze mu mitima y'abakristo benshi.

(2) Ibyo Bibiliya yita kuzimira byavuye mu bwenge bw'amatorero menshi n'abakristo batabarika. Twabuze ibivugwa by'umutwaro byo muri Yuda 23, “abandi mubakirishe ubwoba, mubahubuje mu muriro.”

(3) Uburyo bwinshi bukoreshwa mu ivugabutumwa ntibushobora guhindura ibintu abigishwa. Amatorero yigenga akenshi “azana gahunda zakoreshejwe ahandi zikanesha, ariko mu kuri ziba iz'akanya gato. Akenshi aba ari ubutumwa bw'iminota 15 mu bintu bififitse by'ubumenyi buke bw'umuntu cyangwa wishakira ibye” (urupapuro rwa 9). Uburyo nk'ubwo akenshi bushaka kugira abantu nk'imbarutso ku ntwaro z'Ubutumwa. Uburyo nk' ubwo akenshi bushaka gutsinda ibitego gusa.

(4) “Ivugabutumwa akenshi rigambirira gufata ibyemezo aho kugira ubumwe no guhindura abantu abigishwa… Ukwo kwitanga kugufi mu magambo kubonwa nk'igisubizo cy'ibanze ku nshingano ikomeye twahawe. Nyamara akenshi hari ikibuze hagati yo gufata umugambi no guhindura abantu abigishwa.”

(5) “Guhindura abantu abigishwa bisobanurwa gusa cyangwa mu buryo bw'ibanze nko gukura mu by'Umwuka,” ariko akenshi ni ugukura kwikundwakaza kandi kubuze ibintu bimwe by'ingenzi byo gukura nyakuri, ari byo kwigisha abantu ngo na bo ubwabo babashe kubyara abahindura abandi abigishwa.”

(6) “Uburyo bw'ivugabutumwa akenshi burasuzugurwa.” Bibanda ku butumwa busanzwe bukozwe mbese buri aho, aho kwubaka ubumwe mu bantu no kubitaho by’umwihariko (injyana y`ivugabutumwa) byubaka amateme ku Butumwa Bwiza mu gukunda abantu.”

(7) “Ivugabutumwa rikunze kuvugwaho ariko rishyirwa mu bikorwa gake.” Usanga rishyirwa mu byo abantu bavuga ko bizera cyangwa ibyo bashyira mu mahugurwa, kuri za video, ariko ntibiba mu mibereho y'umwizera usanzwe cyangwa ugize itorero runaka.

None, ni iki kitagenda? Ko dufite Inshingano ikomeye kurusha izindi mu isi, ubutumwa buzana ubugingo aho kuzana urupfu, ni kuki tunanirwa kwamamaza Ubutumwa bwiza ngo dusohoze dutyo Inshingano? Biragaragara ko itorero rikeneye guhugurwa, ariko igikomeye kurushaho rikeneye impamvu y'ukuri iritera kuba abo ryahamagariwe, abantu bamamaza imbaraga z'Imana n'agakiza kabonerwa muri Kristo.

Gusobanukirwa umugambi wa Databuja mu kuvuga ubutumwa

Gukoresha Ijambo ry'Imana nk'isoko yo kumenya umugambi wa Databuja n'ibyiringiro byo kuba impamvu, ikidushishikaza, ibitugora, n'inyigisho, uru rutonde rw’inyigisho ku by'ivugabutmwa bizaba mu bice bine bigaragazwa n'iki gishushanyo cyo hejuru aha.

  • Gusobanukirwa Intego Yacu (Matayo 28:18-20)
  • Gusobanukirwa Ubushobozi bwacu (Ibyakozwe 1:8)
  • Gusobanukirwa Uburyo bwacu (oikos cyangwa urunana rw'amahame)
  • Gusobanukirwa Ubutumwa bwacu.

Nubwo imwe mu nyigisho zikomeye zo muri izi izaba ku ivugabutumwa, ntizaba yibanze ku ivugabutumwa gusa. Kuyigira iy'ivugabutumwa gusa ni ukunanirwa intego y'itorero uko yakabaye ahari no gutuma dutekereza ko intego yacu ari ugutondekanya buri wese kuri gahunda yo kubahugura ngo bajyane Ubutumwa mu ngo. Nk'uko byigeze kuvugwa, iki ni igice cy'iyo ngorane.


130 Christopher B. Adsit, Personal Disciple-Making, Here’s Life Publishers, San Bernardino, CA, 1988, p. 332-333.

131 Wyn and Charles Arn, The Master’s Plan for Making Disciples, Church Growth Press, Pasadena, CA, 1982, p. 6.

132 Arn, pp. 7-11.

Related Topics: Basics for Christians

INYISHO-REMEZO ZO GUKURA KW'UMUKRISTO Gushinga Urufatiro

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4. Why We Should Avoid Selfish Comparison (1 Corinthians 3:1-23)

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1 Corinthians (part four)

We usually compare ourselves with others so that we can feel better about ourselves. The result of comparison is almost always pride or envy. If we come out on top, we respond with pride. If we come out on bottom, we respond with jealousy. The Christians in Corinth were attempting to define themselves based on how they stacked up against others in Corinth. Paul reminds the Corinthians that they belong to the Lord. And while they live before an audience of many, they should seek the applause of One. Comparison that results in selfishness rather than service is unbiblical. Beware of the dangerous game of comparison, Christian.

Related Topics: Christian Life

Mpango wa Mungu wa Wokovu

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1 Yoh 5:11-12 Na huu ndio ushuhuda, ya kwamba Mungu alitupa uzima wa milele; na uzima huu umo katika Mwanawe. Yeye aliye naye Mwana, anao huo uzima; asiye naye Mwana wa Mungu hana huo uzima.

Mkutadha huu watwambia ya kwamba Mungu ametupa uzima wa milele; na uzima huu umo katika Mwanawe, Yesu Kristo. Katika maneno mengine, njia ya kuumiliki uzima wa milele ni kummiliki Mwana wa Mungu. Swahili ni, mtu awezaje kukuwa na Mwana wa Mungu?

Shida ya Mwanadamu

Utengano na Mungu

Isaya 59:2 Lakini maovu yenu yamewafarikisha ninyi na Mungu wenu, na dhambi zenu zimeuficha uso Wake msiuone, hata hataki kusikia maombi yenu.

Warumi 5:8 Bali Mungu aonyesha pendo Lake Yeye Mwenyewe kwetu sisi, kwa kuwa Kristo alikufa kwa ajili yetu, tulipokuwa tungali wenye dhambi.

Kulingana na Warumi 5:8, Mungu alionyesha pendo Lake kwetu sisi kwa njia ya mauti ya Mwanawe. Kwa nini ilimpasa Kristo kutufia? Kwa sababu Andiko la tangaza watu wote kuwa wafanya dhambi. Kufanya "dhambi" kuna maanisha kukosa alama. Biblia inatangaza "wote wamefanya dhambi, na kupungukiwa na utukufu (utakatifu mkamilifu) wa Mungu" (Rum. 3:23). Katika maneno mengine, dhambi zetu zatufarikisha sisi na Mungu wetu aliye utakatifu mkamilifu (haki na kweli) na kwa hivyo sharti Mungu awahukumu watenda dhambi.

Habakuki 1:13a Wewe uliye na macho safi hata usiweze kuangalia uovu, Wewe usiyeweza kutazama ukaidi; mbona unawaangalia watendao kwa hila; na kunyamaza kimya?

Matendo yetu Yasioleta Manufaa

Andiko lafundisha pia ya kwamba hakuna kiasi cha wema wa mwanadamu, matendo ya binadamu, tabia njema ya binadamu, au utendaji wa kidini uwezao kumfanya mtu akubalike na Mungu wala kumwingiza mtu mbinguni. Mtu wa kidini, na mtu mwovu na yule asiye wa kidini wote wako katika hali moja. Wote walipungukiwa na haki ya ukamilifu wa Mungu. Baada ya kujadili mtu mwovu, mtu mwadilifu, na mtu wa kidini katika Warumi 1:18-3:8, Mtume Paulo atangaza ya kwamba Wayahudi na Wayunani wote wako chini ya dhambi, ya kwamba "hakuna mwenye haki hata mmoja" (Rum. 3:9-10). Yaliyo ongezwa kwa jambo hili ni maazimio yafuatayo ya vifungu vya Maandiko:

Waefeso 2:8-9 Kwa maana mmeokolewa kwa neema, kwa njia ya imani; ambayo hiyo haikutokana na nafsi zenu, ni kipawa cha Mungu; 9 wala si kwa matendo, mtu asije akajisifu.

Tito 3:5-7 alituokoa; si kwa sababu ya matendo ya haki tuliyoyatenda sisi; bali kwa rehema Yake, kwa kuoshwa kwa kuzaliwa kwa pili na kufanywa upya na Roho Mtakatifu; 6 ambaye alitumwagia kwa wingi, kwa njia ya Yesu Kristo Mwokozi wetu; 7 ili tukihesabiwa haki kwa neema Yake, tupate kufanywa warithi wa uzima wa milele, kama lilivyo tumaini letu.

Warumi 4:1-5 Basi, tusemeje juu ya Ibrahimu, baba yetu kwa jinsi ya mwili? 2 Kwa maana ikiwa Ibrahimu alihesabiwa haki kwa ajili ya matendo yake, analo la kujisifia; (lakini si mbele za Mungu). 3 Maana Maandiko yasemaje? "Ibrahimu alimwamini Mungu, ikahesabiwa kwake kuwa haki." 4 Lakini kwa mtu afanyaye kazi, ujira wake hauhesabiwi kuwa ni neema, bali kuwa ni deni. 5 Lakini kwa mtu asiyefanya kazi, bali anamwamini Yeye ambaye amhesabia haki asiyekuwa mtauwa, imani yake mtu huyo imehesabiwa kuwa haki.

Hakuna kiasi cha wema wa binadamu ulio wema jinsi alivyo Mungu. Kwa sababu ya jambo hili, Habakuki 1:13 inatwambia Mungu hawezi kuwa na ushirika na mtu ye yote asiyekuwa na haki kamilifu. Ili tukaweze kukubalika na Mungu, sharti tuwe wema jinsi alivyo Mungu. Mbele za Mungu, sisi sote twasimama uchi, wasiojiweza, na wasio na tumaini ndani yetu. Hakuna kiasi cha kuishi kuzuri kitakacho tupeleka mbinguni wala kutupa uzima wa milele. Jawabu ni nini basi?

Utatuzi wa Mungu

Mungu si utakatifu mkamilifu tu (ambaye tabia Yake sisi hatuwezi kamwe kuifikilia kwa nafsi zetu wa kwa matendo yetu ya haki) lakini Yeye pia ni pendo kamilifu aliyejaa neema na huruma. Kwa sababu ya pendo Lake na neema, Yeye hajatuwacha sisi bila tumaini na jawabu.

Warumi 5:8 Bali Mungu aonyesha pendo Lake Yeye Mwenyewe kwetu sisi, kwa kuwa Kristo alikufa kwa ajili yetu, Tulipokuwa tungali wenye dhambi.

Hii ni habari njema ya Biblia, ujumbe wa injili. Ni ujumbe wa kipawa cha Mwana wa Mungu Mwenyewe aliyefanyika mwanadamu (Mungu-mwanadamu), akaishi maisha yasiyo ya dhambi, akafa msalabani kwa ajili yetu, naye akafufuliwa kutoka kaburini akitoa jambo ya kuwa Yeye ni Mwana wa Mungu na thamani ya mauti Yake kwa ajili yetu kama kibadala.

Warumi 1:4 aliyedhihirishwa kwa uwezo kuwa Mwana-wa-Mungu, kwa jinsi ya Roho Mtakatifu, kwa ufufuo wa wafu, Yesu Kristo Bwana wetu.

Warumi 4:25 Ambaye alitolewa kwa ajili ya makosa yetu, na kufufuliwa ili mpate kuhesabiwa haki.

2 Wakorintho 5:21 Mungu alimfanya Yeye asiyejua dhambi kuwa dhambi kwa ajili yetu, ili sisi tupate kuwa haki ya Mungu katika Yeye.

1 Petro 3:18 Kwa maana Kristo naye aliteswa mara moja kwa ajili ya dhambi, mwenye haki kwa ajili yao wasio haki, ili atulete kwa Mungu; mwili Wake akauawa, bali roho Yake akahuishwa.

Je, Twampokeaje Mwana wa Mungu?

Kwa sababu ya kile alichotimiza Yesu Kristo kwa ajili yetu pale msalabani, Biblia inaeleza "Yeye aliye na Mwana anao uzima." Twaweza kumpokea Mwana, Yesu Kristo, kama Mwokozi wetu kwa imani ya kibinafsi, kwa kutumaini katika utu wa Kristo na katika mauti Yake kwa ajili ya dhambi zetu.

Yohana 1:12 Bali wote waliompokea--wale waliaminio jina Lake--aliwapa uwezo wa kufanyika watoto wa Mungu.

Yohana 3:16-18 Kwa maana jinsi hii Mungu aliupenda ulimwengu, hata akamtoa Mwanawe pekee, ili kila mtu amwaniniye asipotee, bali awe na uzima wa milele. 17 Maana Mungu hakumtuma Mwana ulimwenguni ili auhukumu ulimwengu, bali ulimwengu uokolewe katika yeye. 18 Amwaminiye yeye hahukumiwi; asiyeamini amekwisha kuhukumiwa; kwa sababu hakuliamini jina la Mwana pekee wa Mungu.

Hili linamaanisha sharti kila mmoja wetu aje kwa Mungu kwa njia ile hasa: (1) kama mtenda dhambi afahamuye dhambi zake, (2) aziye tambua ya kwamba matendo ya binadamu yanaweza kuleta wokovu, na (3) kuegemea juu ya Kristo peke Yake kabisa kwa imani peke kwa ajili ya wokovu wetu.

Ikiwa ungependa kumtumaini na kumpokea Kristo kama Mwokozi wako wa binafsi, huenda unataka kuieleza imani yako iliyo katika Kristo kwa ombi rahisi kwa kubali uovu wako, ukikubali msamaha Wake na kuiweka imani yako katika Kristo kwa ajili ya wokovu wako.

Ikiwa wewe umetumaini katika Kristo kwa muda usio mrefu, unahitaji kujifunza kuhusu maisha yako mapya na jinsi ya kuenenda pamoja na Bwana. Labda tuna pendekeza uanze kupitia kusoma zile ABCs for Christian Growth yapatikanayo kwa http://www.bible.org. Hizi mfululizo safu utachukua moja-kwa-moja kupitia baadhi ya kweli ya msingi wa Neno la Mungu na utakusaidia wewe kwa kujenga msingi imara kwa ajili ya imani yako katika Kristo.

Related Topics: Soteriology (Salvation)

Lesson 66: We Wish to See Jesus (John 12:20-24)

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September 7, 2014

When the historic Church of the Open Door was in downtown Los Angeles, I heard that if you stood behind the pulpit you looked out into a massive auditorium consisting of a large first floor, a large balcony, and even a second balcony. Although I never stood there, I was told that it gave you a feeling of importance just to stand there and look out at the large crowd that had gathered to hear you speak. But just as your ego might begin to inflate, you quickly came down to earth when you looked down at a little plaque fixed to the pulpit with the words of John 12:21, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”

“We didn’t come here to see you! We don’t want to be impressed with your brilliance or eloquence! We want to see Jesus!” Those are appropriate words for every preacher to remember and, for that matter, for every Christian to keep in mind. In 1 John 3:2, the apostle tells us, “We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.” Seeing Jesus will transform us. And so, even though now we “see in a mirror dimly” (1 Cor. 13:12), our aim should be to see more and more of Jesus. As we grow to see more of His glory now, it progressively changes us into His image. As Paul says (2 Cor. 3:18): “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”

So the question is, how do we see Jesus and His glory now? Then, what difference will seeing Jesus and His glory make in our lives? That question is answered in John 12:25-26, which we will look at next week. But this week we want to focus on how do we see Jesus and His glory now? John 12:20-24 tells us:

To see Jesus and His glory, look to the cross.

In response to the Greeks’ request to see Jesus, He announces that the hour has now come. This is the hour of the cross. Jesus is the grain of wheat that falls into the ground and dies so that it bears much fruit (v. 24). Then Jesus applies this to us (vv. 25-26): His followers must also lose their lives even as Jesus would lose His. But, there are great rewards for those who do.

This is an interesting text for several reasons. First, it seems a bit unexpected to find Greeks in Jerusalem at this Jewish feast. These were probably Gentiles who were proselytes to Judaism. It’s also rather odd that John tells us about their request to see Jesus, but then they pass off the scene and we never learn whether their request was granted or what came of it. My guess is that Jesus granted their request, but we aren’t told. John just uses their request to turn the corner towards the cross. Philip seems rather confused by their request and talks to Andrew. Then the two of them come to Jesus with the Greeks’ request. But it’s not obvious on the surface how Jesus’ reply relates to the Greeks’ desire to see Him.

It is clear, however, that Jesus sees this request as a pivotal point in His ministry. Up till now, there has been a repeated theme in John’s Gospel that Jesus’ hour or time has not yet come. When His mother came to Jesus at the wedding in Cana and informed Him that they had run out of wine, He replied that His hour had not yet come (John 2:4). When His brothers, who were not yet believing in Him, advised Him to go to the Feast of Tabernacles and make Himself known, Jesus replied that His time was not yet here (John 7:4). Later, at that feast, when the hostile Jews tried to seize Him, they were unable to lay a hand on Him, because His hour had not come (John 7:30). When Jesus taught openly in the temple, again His enemies could not seize Him, because His hour had not yet come (John 8:20).

But now, in response to the request of these Greeks to see Him, Jesus announces (John 12:23), “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” Why? What was the significance of these Greeks and their desire to see Jesus? The answer is that these Greeks signaled a turning point in which the Jewish people have rejected Jesus as their Savior and so now the gospel would go out to the Gentiles as well as the Jews. Salvation would now be proclaimed to the whole world.

This worldwide scope of the gospel was telegraphed in John 3:16-17, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” We also saw it in John 4:42, when the Samaritan people told the woman who had met Jesus by the well, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.” The gospel came to the Jews first, but now that they have largely rejected it, the message goes out to the whole world. (Paul develops that theme in Romans 9-11. He practiced it in Acts 13:45-46.)

John makes this point in a subtle and skillful manner. First, he contrasts the Pharisees with the Greeks (John 12:19-20). The Pharisees were the religious leaders in Israel. They should have accepted Jesus as their Messiah and Savior. But instead, they rejected Him and were seeking to kill Him. In contrast, the Greeks were seeking Him. John wants us to see that the Jews’ rejection of Jesus did not thwart God’s plan of salvation; rather, it means good news for the world (Rom. 11:15).

Also, John uses irony to report the frustrated words of the Pharisees as they saw the crowds shouting “Hosanna” as Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the donkey’s colt (John 12:19): “You see that you are not doing any good; look, the world has gone after Him.” John’s irony is, “Yes, in fact the world is going after Jesus.” He is the Savior not only of the Jews, but of all people who seek Him.

I want to draw two important truths from these verses:

1. God’s ultimate aim in history is to glorify His Son.

Jesus says (John 12:23), “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” “Son of Man” was Jesus’ favorite way to refer to Himself. It had overtones of His deity, but undertones of His humanity (Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John [Eerdmans], p. 172). Morris says (pp. 172-173), “It was a way of alluding to and yet veiling His messiahship, for His concept of the Messiah differed markedly from that commonly held.” He adds that in John’s Gospel, “the term is always associated either with Christ’s heavenly glory or with the salvation He came to bring.”

In the last chapter, when Jesus looked ahead to raising Lazarus from the dead, He said (John 11:4), “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” This means that to glorify the Son is tantamount to glorifying God, which was Jesus’ aim in all that He did. As we have seen (in my message on John 11:38-57, p. 2), God’s glory is His essential and intrinsic splendor. His glory is displayed in all of His attributes and works. Since God’s ultimate aim is to glorify Himself through His Son, our chief aim is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever (Westminster Shorter Catechism).

Back in John 5:22-23, Jesus made a statement that would be blasphemous on the lips of anyone who is not equal to God: “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.” In His prayer just before going out to Gethsemane, Jesus prayed (John 17:1), “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You ….” He added (John 17:5), “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”

The apostle Paul repeatedly made the same point. After mentioning how Jesus humbled Himself by being obedient to death on the cross, Paul added (Phil. 2:9-11):

For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

In Ephesians 1:10, Paul said that God’s purpose is “the summing up of all things in Christ.” In Colossians 1:18, Paul said that Christ “will come to have first place in everything.” In Revelation (21:22-23), John describes the New Jerusalem:

I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.

So throughout eternity we will live in the light of the glory of God and His Son, the Lamb who was slain for us! Paul sums up the application for us (1 Cor. 10:31): “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” To state it negatively: If something doesn’t glorify God (make Him look good, as He truly is), then don’t do it. The battle begins on the thought level: Do your thoughts glorify God? Do your attitudes glorify the Savior? (Hint: Grumbling does not glorify God! Thankfulness does!) It extends to your words: Does what you say to your mate or your children glorify God? Does what you say about another person behind her back glorify God? Paul says that we shouldn’t use rotten speech that tears someone down, but only words that edify and give grace to others (Eph. 4:29). Then it flows out to our behavior: Did your actions this week glorify God? Did your actions make God look good so that others will be drawn to your Savior? Since God’s aim in history is to glorify His Son, our aim every day should be to glorify our Lord and Savior.

2. The cross reveals God’s glory in Christ.

When Jesus said (John 12:23), “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified,” He was referring to the cross. The same is true when He prayed (John 17:1), “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You ….” Jesus glorified the Father and the Father glorified Jesus through the cross. How? Here are three ways (there are many more):

A. The cross reveals Jesus’ glory by having all people come to Him alone for salvation.

G. Campbell Morgan explained (The Gospel According to John [Revell], p. 215), “Jesus said in effect, ‘These Greeks cannot see Me. There is only one way by which they may see Me, know Me, apprehend Me; and that is through the “hour” that has now come, and that is through the way of the Cross.’”

So, Jesus is the grain of wheat that falls into the ground and dies, thus producing much fruit (John 12:24). Augustine explained (cited by Morris, p. 593, note 69), “He spoke of Himself. He Himself was the grain that had to die, and be multiplied; to suffer death through the unbelief of the Jews, and to be multiplied in the faith of many nations.” A grain of wheat by itself, sitting on the shelf, remains alone. But if it falls into the ground and that outer shell “dies,” the life inside is released and produces a plant containing many grains of wheat. Through the cross, the gospel was opened to all peoples.

Jesus is the Savior for the Jews first, but also for the Gentiles (Rom. 1:16). But whether Jew or Gentile, all must come through Jesus and His substitutionary death alone. There are not many ways to God. Jesus is the only way. He said (John 14:6), “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” Peter echoed this when he proclaimed to the Jewish leaders (Acts 4:12), “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

But when these Greeks approached Philip at the feast, he seemed a bit hesitant to bring them to Jesus. We don’t know, by the way, why they went to Philip. Perhaps it was his Greek name or maybe, as John here reminds us (12:21), he was from Bethsaida of Galilee, which was near Gentile provinces. But before Philip went to Jesus with the Greeks’ request, he conferred with Andrew and then together they went to Jesus.

Probably Philip’s hesitation stemmed from Jesus’ earlier instructions to the twelve before He sent them out on a preaching tour (Matt. 10:5-6), “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Jesus’ mission, in line with the Abrahamic Covenant to bless all nations through his descendants, was first to offer Himself to the Jews as their Messiah. He opened the door of salvation to the Gentiles only after Israel rejected Him. Now the gospel goes out to the nations through those who through faith are Abraham’s true spiritual children (Gal. 3:7).

In the Great Commission, just before He ascended, Jesus plainly commanded (Matt. 28:19), “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations ….” Luke (24:47) reports Jesus as telling His disciples “that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations ….” In Revelation (5:9; 7:9), John sees a great multitude in heaven from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation, whom Jesus purchased with His blood. So the cross reveals Jesus’ glory by having all people come to Him alone for salvation. There is no salvation outside of faith in Jesus’ death for our sins.

B. The cross reveals Jesus’ glory by nullifying the boastful works of sinners.

This is Paul’s argument in 1 Corinthians 1:18-31. He shows how God sets aside the so-called “wisdom” of this world and replaces it with Christ crucified. He states (1 Cor. 1:22-24), “For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” He goes on to show that God did not choose the Corinthians for salvation because of their wisdom or earthly status, so that no one may boast before the Lord. He sums up (1 Cor. 1:30-31): “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, ‘Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.’”

Paul has a similar argument in Galatians, where he refutes the proud claims of the Judaizers, who said that in addition to faith in Christ, people had to keep the Jewish law, especially the rite of circumcision. But if sinners can commend themselves to God on the basis of anything that they can do, then they have grounds for boasting in their good works (Gal. 6:13). But Paul concludes (Gal. 6:14), “But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”

The cross means that Jesus did everything necessary for our salvation. He paid in full the debt that we owe. He satisfied God’s righteous judgment against our sins. There is nothing that we can do to qualify for heaven. All we can do is to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ; but repentance and faith are His gifts, so that none can boast (Acts 11:18; Eph. 2:8-9). Thus He gets all the glory for our salvation and we get none. That’s the practical point of the doctrine of election: God gets all the glory for our salvation. If He had not chosen us, we never would have chosen Him.

C. The cross reveals Jesus’ glory by being the supreme revelation of God’s perfect love and justice.

The cross showed God’s love, not just for the Jews, but for the world (John 3:16). It reveals God’s great love for us, “in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). John declares (1 John 4:10), “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” Jesus didn’t love us because we were worthy. He loved us in spite of our rebellion against Him. As Charles Wesley wrote, “Amazing love, how can it be, that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me!”

But that word “propitiation” points to another aspect of God’s glory as seen in the cross: His perfect justice. God didn’t love us so much that He just said, “I’ll overlook your sins.” If He had done that, He wouldn’t be just and righteous. A judge who dismissed murderers and rapists with no penalty would not be just. The requirement of the law must be upheld. So God’s gracious solution was to send His Son as the propitiation (a sacrifice that satisfies God’s wrath) for our sins. Hebrews 2:17 says that Jesus had to share our human nature “so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” So at the cross Jesus bore the wrath of God on behalf of all whom the Father gave to Him.

Leon Morris (The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross [Eerdmans], p. 211) sums up an exhaustive study of the Greek words for “propitiation:” “Thus the use of the concept of propitiation witnesses to two great realities, the one, the reality and the seriousness of the divine reaction against sin, and the other, the reality and the greatness of the divine love which provided the gift which should avert the wrath from men.” The cross shows Jesus’ glory by being the supreme revelation of God’s perfect love and justice. If you have not fled to the cross for mercy, you’re still under God’s terrible wrath (John 3:36). But God invites all sinners to come to Jesus and be saved (Rom. 10:12-13).

Thus, God’s ultimate aim in history is to glorify His Son. The cross reveals God’s glory in Christ by having all people come to Him alone for salvation; by nullifying the boastful works of sinners; and by displaying God’s perfect love and justice. If I had time, I could develop the point that the cross reveals Jesus’ glory by bearing much fruit through His death, as John 12:24 shows. As Jesus said (John 6:39), “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.” He did not shed His blood in vain, hoping that some might be saved. He shed His blood effectually to save all whom the Father had given Him.

Conclusion

So to see Jesus and His glory, you don’t need to have a mystical vision. Rather, look to the cross. The cross reveals Jesus’ glory. Ask God to open your eyes to the glory of Christ and Him crucified! Meditate often on the cross. It will humble your pride, which is your biggest impediment to loving God and loving others. It will stir your heart with love and worship for the Savior, who gave Himself for you when you were a sinful rebel. It will give you compassion and hope for the lost, who can be saved by looking in faith to Jesus as the substitute for their sins. And, as we’ll see in our next study (of John 12:25-26), seeing Jesus’ glory in the cross will transform you so that others will see Him through you.

Application Questions

  1. What practical applications stem from understanding that the gospel is primarily about God’s glory in Christ, not about us? (See God’s Passion for His Glory, by John Piper.)
  2. Many would argue that to say that Jesus is the only way to God is intolerant and arrogant. How would you answer them?
  3. Why is it important to understand that repentance and saving faith are God’s gifts? What Scriptures support this? What errors result if this is denied?
  4. An unbeliever tells you, “When someone wrongs me, I just forgive him. Why can’t God just forgive us without killing His Son?” How would you reply?

Copyright, Steven J. Cole, 2014, All Rights Reserved.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture Quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, Updated Edition © The Lockman Foundation

Related Topics: Glory, Soteriology (Salvation)

Lesson 67: Why You Should Hate Your Life (John 12:24-26)

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September 21, 2014

If I wanted to preach a sermon that appeals to a wide audience, I probably should come up with a different title than, “Why You Should Hate Your Life.” For one thing, it’s a downer. It’s not a happy title. There’s already enough doom and gloom in this world, so why preach a sermon about hating your life? For another thing, not many people wonder about, “How can I hate my life?” It doesn’t help build self-esteem and we all know that building our self-esteem should be one of our main goals in the Christian life, don’t we? (In case you can’t tell, I was being facetious!)

But here’s why I think “Why You Should Hate Your Life” is a good title for a sermon: Because Jesus said that we should do it! And it’s not something that you will fall into naturally without thought or effort. To do it, you’ve got to think carefully about what it means and work at it daily. It’s not a “do it once and you’re done” kind of thing. Also, Jesus said that if I hate my life in this world, I will keep it to life eternal. So this isn’t just some self-help advice about how to have your best life now. It’s about your eternal destiny! So we need to be clear on what Jesus meant and how we should apply it!

We shouldn’t brush aside any of Jesus’ teachings, but when He repeats a message often, we really need to pay attention. He gives us a “heads up” when He begins (12:24) with, “Truly, truly ….” That means, “Wake up! Don’t miss this! Think carefully about this because it’s important!” He proceeds to talk about Himself—He is the grain of wheat that dies so that it will bear much fruit. But in that, Jesus is also our example. We are to die to ourselves so that we bear much fruit. Then He applies it directly to us in verse 25 in the form of a paradox, followed by a motivational promise as to why we should do this (verse 26).

Jesus taught the same truth with slight variations in Matthew 10:37-39; 16:24-27; Mark 8:34-38; Luke 9:23-26; 14:27; & 17:33. To cite Mark 8:34-38:

And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 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 what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

Jesus’ words apply to everyone who wants to follow Him. He assumes that we all want to save our lives. But He tells us that the way to save our lives is to lose them for His sake and the gospel’s. And, He’s talking about saving or losing our lives eternally, as the comment about coming “in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” shows. So it’s vitally important to understand and apply Jesus’ words in our text. The message is:

You should hate your life in this world because you want to follow Jesus, serve Him, and be with Him forever.

We see: The servant’s model: Jesus (12:24); the servant’s mandate: to hate our lives in this world (12:25); and, the servant’s motivation: to be with Jesus and to be honored by the Father (12:26).

1. The servant’s model: By laying down His life on the cross, Jesus bore much fruit (12:24).

Jesus said (John 12:24), “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Jesus was referring to the cross. He is the grain of wheat that fell into the ground, died, and bore much fruit. By giving His life as a ransom for many, Jesus “brought many sons to glory” (Mark 10:45; Heb. 2:10). He bore much fruit.

We can never imitate Jesus in His substitutionary death for the sins of others. His death was unique because Jesus is unique. He is the only God-man. He is the eternal Word made flesh, who came as the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world (John 1:14, 29). Only Jesus could do that.

But in another sense, His death was an example for us all. During His short ministry on earth, Jesus was constantly dying to Himself as He loved others. We see a graphic example of that in John 13, where Jesus took a towel and a basin of water to wash the disciples’ feet. That was the job of a servant. But Jesus did it as an example of how we are to lay aside our lives to serve one another (John 13:15). The culmination of Jesus’ dying to Himself was when He literally laid down His life on the cross for us. That’s how He bore much fruit. When we follow Him by daily dying to ourselves to serve others, we will bear much fruit, and so prove ourselves to be His disciples (John 15:8). Jesus applies His example to us in verse 25:

2. The servant’s mandate: To follow Jesus, you must hate, not love, your life in this world (12:25).

John 12:25: “He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.” In the Greek text, the first two words translated “life” are psyche, which is often translated “soul.” The last “life” comes from zoe, which refers to the eternal life that God gives. Jesus assumes that we all want to keep our souls (or lives) to life eternal. But here’s the paradox: the way to keep your life is to hate it. The way to lose it is to love it. Also, this isn’t just aimed at the dedicated few who want to go to the mission field or become martyrs for the sake of the gospel. This is a mandate for all who follow Jesus (Mark 8:34). All that follow Him are in the daily process of hating their lives in this world. They are the ones who keep their lives eternally.

So, what does it mean to “love your life in this world” and “to hate your life in this world”? Let’s look at both sides of it:

A. To follow Jesus, you must not love your life in this world.

Note three things about loving your life in this world:

1) Loving your life in this world means living with this life only in view.

That’s what Jesus means by “in this world.” It’s to live as if this world is all there is, so get all the gusto you can now. It’s to live for “your best life now.” That’s the stupidest title for a supposedly Christian book that I’ve ever heard of! Did Jesus enjoy His best life now as He endured the hostility of sinners against Him and went to cross in His early thirties? Did Paul enjoy his best life now as he suffered beatings, imprisonments, a stoning, shipwrecks, and frequent dangers for the sake of the gospel (2 Cor. 11:23-27)? Did any of the martyrs enjoy their best life now as they had their heads cut off or their bodies burned at the stake? If that book is telling you how to have your best life now by laying it down for the sake of Jesus and the gospel, “Amen!” But if it’s telling you how you can have health and wealth and a comfortable lifestyle now, then it’s completely opposed to Jesus’ teaching!

Jesus told about a man who was enjoying his best life now. He said to his soul (Luke 12:19), “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink, and be merry.” But God said to him (Luke 12:20), “You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?” Jesus concluded (Luke 12:21), “So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

Those in the world live as if this life is all that there is. Their aim in life is to accumulate as much money and stuff as they think will make them happy. Their motto is, “He who dies with the most toys wins!” But Jesus says, “He loses.”

2) Loving your life in this world means living for the same things people in the world live for.

What do people without Christ in this world live for? John tells us (1 John 2:15-17):

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.

If greed and accumulating this world’s stuff is a temptation for you (as it is for me), I urge you to memorize those verses and rehearse them often in your mind! The merchants of this world bombard us daily with the message, “To be happy, you need the stuff that I’m selling. Buy this stuff and you’ll be happy!” I’ll be honest: I like a lot of the stuff they’re selling. And, some of it does make life more comfortable and easy to navigate. I’m thankful for computers and the Internet, which make preparing my sermons and making them available worldwide much easier. They have many other wonderful features. I’m sure that someday I’ll join the rest of the world in getting a smart phone and once I learn how to use it, I’ll like the way it makes life easier. The same can be said for many other things in the world. But, I’ve got to be on guard against loving those things. If I love those things as opposed to doing the will of God, John says, the love of the Father is not in me.

3) Loving your life in this world is the sure way to lose it.

John 12:25a: “He who loves his life loses it….” That’s the same thing as Mark 8:35a, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,” which is the same as, “to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul” (Mark 8:36). Let me put it nicely: People are crazy! A story that I’ve used many times in funeral messages illustrates why:

In 1981, a man was flown into the remote Alaskan wilderness to photograph the natural beauty of the tundra. He had photo equipment, 500 rolls of film, several firearms, and 1,400 pounds of provisions. As the months passed, the entries in his diary, which at first detailed the wonder and fascination with the wildlife around him, turned into a pathetic record of a nightmare. In August he wrote, “I think I should have used more foresight about arranging my departure. I’ll soon find out.”

He waited and waited, but no one came to his rescue. In November he died in a nameless valley, by a nameless lake, 225 miles northeast of Fairbanks. An investigation revealed that he had care-fully provided for his adventure, but he had made no provision to be flown out of the area.

That was a bit shortsighted, wasn’t it? And yet, how many people live their lives without making any plans for their departure to face eternity? The statistics on death are quite impressive! You know for certain that you will be departing. And you know that you won’t be taking any of your stuff with you when you go. I read about a rich guy once who was buried in his Cadillac. But he’s not driving it now! As they say, you never see a hearse towing a U-Haul!

So why don’t more people—including the Lord’s people—think more seriously about Jesus’ words (John 12:25a): “He who loves his life loses it…”? Our goals, our desires, the way we spend our money and our lives, should not be focused on this life only. Loving your life in this world is the sure way to lose it. Let’s look at the flip side:

B. To follow Jesus, you must hate your life in this world.

You ask, “Am I supposed to become a monk, take a vow of poverty, wear hair shirts, have no contact with the outside world, and spend hours singing Gregorian chants?” Is it wrong to enjoy life? What does it mean to hate my life in this world?

To “hate” our lives (John 12:25) is the same thing as denying ourselves and taking up our cross daily to follow Jesus (Luke 9:23). It means that we must daily repudiate a self-centered life. It means living for God’s glory and His purpose by submitting every thought, word, and deed to the lordship of Jesus. It means moment by moment seeking to love God and love others for Jesus’ sake by saying no to my inherent selfishness and pride. Here are two things to consider about hating your life in this world:

1) Hating your life in this world is not the way to gain eternal life, but rather a characteristic of all who have eternal life.

When Jesus says (John 12:25b), “he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal,” He is not describing how to obtain eternal life, unless we understand hating our life in this world to mean denying all trust in our own good works and trusting in Christ alone for salvation. But I think rather by “hating his life,” Jesus is referring to the daily, lifelong process of dying to self as we live for Him. That process is characteristic of all who have truly trusted in Christ for salvation. If you’re not engaging in the daily battle of fighting your own selfishness and pride, you may need to ask, “Have I truly repented of my sins and trusted in Christ as my Savior and Lord?”

2) Hating your life in this world means dying to selfishness in order to love others for Jesus’ sake.

“Hating your life in this world” is the same thing as “taking up your cross daily” to follow Jesus (Luke 9:23). Many Christians think that to bear their cross means putting up with a difficult mate or with a painful malady, like arthritis or back pain. But taking up your cross is not an unavoidable trial that you must endure. Jesus says that it is a daily activity that you choose to embrace. In Jesus’ day, the cross wasn’t an implement of irritation, inconvenience, or even suffering. The cross was an instrument of tortuous, slow execution. Jesus’ hearers knew that a man who took up his cross was, for all practical purposes, a dead man. A man bearing his cross gave up all hope and interest in the things of this world, including self-fulfillment. He knew that in a very short time he would be leaving this world. He was dead to self.

Taking up your cross or hating your life in this world is not something you achieve in an emotional moment of spiritual ecstasy or dedication. You never arrive on a spiritual mountaintop where you can sigh with relief, “I’m finally there! No more death to self!” Nor are there any shortcuts or quick fixes to this painful process. The need to hate my life or die to self is never finished in this life; it is a daily battle. A. T. Pierson said, “Getting rid of the ‘self-life’ is like peeling an onion: layer upon layer—and a tearful process!”

Jesus’ death on the cross was the supreme act of love in human history. While, as I said, we can’t die to pay for others’ sins, to the extent that we follow Jesus’ example by dying to our own selfishness for the sake of others’ ultimate good, we are imitating His example of love. In other words, self-sacrifice for others’ highest good is the essence of biblical love. In Ephesians 5:2, Paul exhorts, “Walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” Later he applies it to husbands (Eph. 5:25), “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her….” Love is a self-sacrificing commitment that seeks the highest good of the one loved. And love is the supreme mark of the Christian, the first fruit of the Holy Spirit (John 13:35; Gal. 5:22).

I’m a husband and I see a lot of Christian husbands who fail to apply this on a daily basis with their wives, so I’m going to talk about that for a moment. If you’re in a different role, it applies to you, so you can adapt the application for your situation. But I see a lot of husbands who think that being the head of their homes means being the king of their homes. And kings don’t serve others. Kings are served by others. So they don’t serve their wives and kids; they expect their wives and kids to serve them. If they want to do something, they do it without a thought about how it may affect their wife and kids. If they want to buy a new toy, they buy it without talking to their wife about her needs. In other words, they’re living selfishly. They’re not hating their lives in order to love others for Jesus’ sake. But hating your life in this world means dying to selfishness in order to love others for Jesus’ sake.

Maybe by this point you’re wondering, “Why would I want to die to myself and live for Christ and others?” That leads to:

3. The servant’s motivation: If we serve Jesus and follow Him, we’ll bear much fruit, we’ll be with Him forever, and the Father will honor us (12:26).

John 12:26: “If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.” Two brief comments:

A. To serve Jesus, you must follow Him with the goal of bearing much fruit.

Jesus assumes that all His people will serve Him. And all who serve Him must follow Him. This means obeying His teachings and commandments, of course. But in the context, it especially means following Him by dying to self so that we might, like Jesus, bear much fruit. As He will tell the disciples (John 15:16), He chose them so that they would bear fruit. If the Lord has chosen you, then that’s your purpose. Fruit refers to all character qualities, behavior, and service that He produces in and through us as we abide in Him. Then comes the motivation:

B. If we serve and follow Jesus, we will be with Him forever and the Father will honor us.

Jesus here doesn’t say that He will be with us, although that is true (Matt. 28:20). Rather, He says that we will be with Him. In John 14:3, He promises, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” “Where I am” refers to heaven. To be with Jesus in heaven throughout eternity is more than sufficient reward for all of the trials and persecution that we may go through in this life! And on top of that, Jesus promises that the Father will honor us! I’m sure that we can’t imagine what that entails, but all the honors that this world can give will pale by comparison to the honor that the Father will give to those who have faithfully served His Son.

Conclusion

One writer (Luccock, cited by Ralph Earle, The Gospel According to Mark [Zondervan], p. 108) observes that a mummy is the best preserved thing in human history. If you want to make yourself a spiritual mummy, then try to preserve your life. Jesus says, “You’ll die alone.” But if you die to self for Jesus’ sake, you’ll bear much fruit. So why should you hate your life in this world? Because you want to follow Jesus and be like Him. You want to serve Him and be with Him forever. Remember the famous words of missionary martyr Jim Elliot: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

Application Questions

  1. Discuss: If you die to self to serve others, won’t you become a doormat who gets used by others? When is it okay to say no?
  2. Does hating your life in this world mean that it’s wrong to have fun and enjoy life? Support your answer from Scripture.
  3. What are some practical ways that you can serve your family (or roommates if you’re not living at home)?
  4. To what extent should Christians be motivated by eternal rewards? Can the rewards motivation taint us? Cite Scripture.

Copyright, Steven J. Cole, 2014, All Rights Reserved.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture Quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, Updated Edition © The Lockman Foundation

Related Topics: Christian Life, Discipleship, Spiritual Life

5. Why We Should Pursue Faithfulness (1 Corinthians 4:1-21)

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1 Corinthians (part five)

The more I read the Bible, the higher I elevate the importance of our faithfulness. It summarizes our job description on earth. The measuring stick God uses to evaluate the quality of our lives seems to have the word "faithfulness" inscribed on it. Certainly, faithfulness to God is not impressive in the eyes of the world. It may not look like success to those who don't know Christ; they may even criticize us for doing the things that God praises. But we have one ultimate, objective Judge who knows our hearts and our motives in addition to our actions. If you're around me much, you're going to hear this notion of faithfulness repeated over and over again. Be faithful, trust God for the results, and invite others to a life of faithfulness.

Related Topics: Christian Life, Spiritual Life

Issue 019. 2014 October Bible.org Translator's Newsletter

Thank You!

This last few months has resulted in 16 new translated articles being added to the site. We have added our main salvation article into two more languages (Hindi and Swahili), and are always appreciative of the gospel being made available to more people. Please pray that God uses it in the spread of His kingdom. Thank you for your hard work, Mariza, Jenny, Roma, and David!

What a blessing to be able to provide these new resources to our readers around the world. Thank you all for your ongoing translation work. See the Languages and Articles Here.

Hints and Tips

Tip: Want to double-check a hard section to translate? Want to know more about the way a word or phrase has been translated by others in other real translations?

Linguee (http://www.linguee.com/) has an interesting resource that I highly recommend you check out. It is not a “machine translation” like Google Translate, but it provides some translation suggestions on the left hand side of the screen while giving similar real translations for comparison in the main body of the results page. This could be an interesting tool for providing further background information on the translation of phrases that are challenging for you—in complement with traditional dictionary resources and discussion with other individuals. Currently it is available with 25 languages.

Hopefully this will be a helpful resource to you as you work on accurately translating these important messages about God’s Word!

Learn More Tips from our FAQ Section.

Awarding Faithfulness

This time we had the joy of giving out two awards for translation efforts. The first award went to Mariza for having reached the 85 article milestone. She received an ePub version of the book The Hospitality Commands by Alexander Strauch. The second award was to David for his first translation with us. He received an ePub version of the NET Bible with Full Notes. We pray that these resources are a blessing to you in your personal lives and ministry.

For further Award program details see our Awarding Faithfulness article

Know someone else who is bilingual?

If you know of anyone else who would have the time and skills to translate articles for Bible.org please consider recommending this ministry to them. Sometimes the most obvious gifts (like preaching or being a leader) are not the ones with the most impact or need. This is a real opportunity to meet a need and impact thousands and thousands of people with the truth of God’s Word. Click here to contact us and begin impacting thousands around the world

Need help, have questions, or prefer to meet in real time?

I am available and would love to answer any questions you might have. We do have a Frequently Asked Questions section on our Translation Series page, but you can always send me an email! I can also be available through Skype for a voice or chat conversation. Simply let me know through email that you would like to talk and we will get it worked out.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Click here to email us

Related Topics: Administrative and Organization

A Time for Training Wheels: Family Devotions for Three to Seven Year Olds

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As children mount their two-wheelers for the first time the eagerness and excitement of success can be seen in their glowing eyes and cocky smiles. But it only takes one spill for them to realize they are going to need some help and support to make this an enjoyable adventure. This is when training wheels become useful.

Family devotions can be like bike riding. God’s Word is an adventure waiting to be explored, but for many it can be overwhelming and difficult. A Time for Training Wheels will give you the support, ideas, direction and creative flair to make family devotions a successful adventure.

Illustrated by Jon Smail

To download a PDF or Word document version of this book click on the downloads in the Related Media Block.

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV® Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Related Topics: Bible Literacy, Children's Curriculum, Children's Training Resources, Parent Resources, Christian Education, Christian Home, Devotionals, Parenting

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