Lesson 65: Following Jesus for the Right Reason (John 12:12-19)Related Media
August 31, 2014
The longer that I’m a Christian, the more often I’m saddened to see people who made a profession of faith in Christ and began to follow Him, but later fell away and now are far from God. In some cases, these people have even been involved in serving the Lord in full time ministry. But something went wrong and now they are not only out of the ministry and away from the church, but they’re not even professing to believe in Jesus.
There are many causes for such spiritual failure. Sometimes, things in life or ministry did not go as they had hoped. Perhaps they got burned by other believers who violated their trust. Some had nagging doubts or difficult questions about the Bible that were fed by skeptics. In many cases, the person fell away because of serious sin.
We should not be surprised by such cases, since the Bible contains many examples of spiritual failure. Our chapter (John 12:4) mentions Judas, one of the twelve, who would betray Jesus. In Acts (5:1-11) Ananias and Sapphira, members of the early church, were struck dead for their duplicity. Then there is Simon the magician (Acts 8:9-24), who professed faith in Christ and was baptized, but who tried to buy spiritual power from the apostles so that he could impress the crowds with miracles.
Later (Acts 20:30), Paul warned the Ephesian elders that from their midst some would arise, drawing away the disciples after them. Paul warned Timothy about several men who had turned from the faith (1 Tim. 1:20; 2 Tim. 1:15). He lamented Demas, a former fellow worker, who had deserted Paul because he loved this present world (Philemon 24; 2 Tim. 4:10). Later, both Peter (2 Peter 2) and John (1 John 2:19; 3 John 9-10) warned about false teachers, who probably once were sound, but now were preying on the flock.
While there are different reasons that these and others fall away from the Lord, at the root of every case is that the person either never knew or else lost sight of who Jesus is. Understanding Jesus’ identity is crucial because your eternal destiny rests on believing the truth about who Jesus is and what He did on the cross. That’s why John wrote this Gospel (John 20:31), “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” If you understand and believe in who Jesus is, you will have eternal life. But if you have false notions about who Jesus is or false hopes about what He will do for you in this life, at some point you will be disappointed and will fall away from your initial profession of faith.
Jesus’ so-called “Triumphal Entry” into Jerusalem at the beginning of Passion Week should perhaps be called His “Tragic Entry,” because it triggered events that led to His death. Luke (19:41) reports that when Jesus approached Jerusalem, He wept over it. The crowds lined the street and cheered for Jesus as the long-expected King of Israel, but they were hoping for a political king, who could lead a military victory against Rome and provide eventual peace and prosperity for their nation. They were not so interested in a Messiah with a spiritual kingdom, who would provide forgiveness for their sins and who would be Lord of every aspect of their personal lives. So within a week, the shouts of “Hosanna!” turned to “Crucify Him!” The fickle crowd was following Jesus for the wrong reasons. Such a faulty foundation inevitably collapses.
Jesus’ Triumphal Entry is reported in all four Gospels. To understand it properly, you have to recognize that it is a complete reversal of all that Jesus has done in His ministry to this point. Up till now, Jesus has mostly kept veiled His identity as Messiah. When a demon proclaimed Him to be the Holy One of God, He told him to be quiet (Mark 1:24-25). When He healed people, Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone (Mark 1:44; 7:36). Even when He raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead, He gave strict orders that no one should know about it (Mark 5:43)! When the disciples gained insight into His identity as Messiah, Jesus told them not to tell anyone (Mark 8:30; 9:9). The only exception in John so far was when Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well that He was the Messiah (John 4:26).
But now Jesus deliberately stages a public demonstration to proclaim Himself as Messiah in Jerusalem at the most widely attended feast of them all. There were perhaps a million pilgrims in the city for the Passover (Andreas Kostenberger, John [Baker], p. 368). The other Gospels make it clear that Jesus set up this event by sending two of the disciples to get the donkey and her colt. When some of the Pharisees in the crowd objected to the people’s shouts of, “Hosanna!” rather than quieting the shouts, Jesus affirmed them by saying (Luke 19:40), “I tell you, if these become silent, ‘the stones will cry out!’” So there is a dramatic shift in Jesus’ ministry at this point. We need to understand why.
The answer lies in the Jewish concept of Messiah in Jesus’ day. “Messiah” comes from a Hebrew word meaning “to anoint.” “Christ” comes from the Greek word “to anoint.” Thus the Messiah or Christ is the one whom God anoints, sent to deliver His people from sin and rule over them as King and Lord. The kings of Israel were God’s anointed rulers of His people, but they always fell short. Even David, the greatest king in Israel, made some serious mistakes. But God promised to send one of David’s descendants to reign on his throne, who would rule in absolute righteousness and justice, crushing all opposition under His feet (Ps. 2). This political aspect of Messiah as King dominated Jewish thought in the first century as the nation chafed under Roman rule. This political aspect of Messiah’s reign is behind Psalm 118:26, which the people cite in John 12:13, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord….” They added, “even the King of Israel.”
But the Old Testament presents a second aspect of the Messiah, namely, that He would be the suffering servant who would bear the sins of His people, deliver them from God’s judgment, and establish a kingdom of righteousness. He would not only be the King, but also Israel’s prophet and priest. This is the theme of Psalm 110, which proclaims Messiah not only as a conquering warrior, but also as a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. The suffering servant is a theme in Isaiah 40-55, especially the great prophecy of Isaiah 53. It is also implicit in the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9 (cited in John 12:15), which presents Messiah not as a warrior mounted on a powerful horse, but as humble, mounted on the foal of a donkey. This idea of Messiah as the humble sin-bearer of His people was not dominant with the Jews in Jesus’ day. They were looking for a political Messiah.
In the Triumphal Entry, Jesus was declaring Himself to be Israel’s Messiah, but not the kind of Messiah that they expected. He did not ride into Jerusalem on a powerful war horse to lead the charge against Rome, but on the foal of a donkey, which was not thought of as a kingly animal in Jesus’ day, to offer Himself as the sacrifice for our sins. By this public demonstration, Jesus deliberately provoked the Jewish leaders. They wanted to kill Him, but not at the Passover, lest there be a riot among the people (Matt. 26:3-5). But for Scripture to be fulfilled, Jesus needed to die as the Passover lamb for His people (1 Cor. 5:7). So Jesus, knowing that His time had come, staged this Triumphal Entry to trigger the events that would lead to His death coinciding with the Jewish Passover. The Jewish leaders did not take Jesus’ life against His will; rather, He laid it down willingly for His sheep (John 10:17-18).
With all of that as a foundation for understanding this pivotal event in Jesus’ ministry, let me turn to how it applies to us:
Make sure that you follow Jesus because of who He is, not because of what you think He might provide for you.
Let’s think about the negative side of this first:
1. Don’t follow Jesus only because of the temporal benefits you think He might provide for you.
John presents various groups that took part in this Triumphal Entry. The crowd who had come to Jerusalem for the feast took the branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him (John 12:12-13). John is the only Gospel to mention the palm branches that we now associate with “Palm Sunday.” Two centuries before Christ, Judas and Simon Maccabaeus had driven the Syrian forces out of Israel. Their victory was celebrated with music and the waving of palm branches (1 Macc. 13:51), which also had been prominent at the earlier rededication of the temple (2 Macc. 10:7). Thus palm branches were a symbol of Jewish nationalism and of victory over their enemies. The crowd was hopeful that Jesus was the messianic liberator who would free them from Rome’s domination (D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John [Eerdmans/Apollos], p. 432).
Their cry (John 12:13), “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord,” comes from Psalm 118:25-26, which is the climax of the Hallel (Psalms 113-118), which was sung at the Feasts of Tabernacles, Dedication, and Passover (Carson, ibid.). “Hosanna” meant, “Save now!” It may have been a prayer or just a cry of praise to God. The next line (in John 12:13), “even the King of Israel,” is not from Psalm 118, but rather shows that the crowd understood Psalm 118 as referring to the Messianic King. This group largely consisted of those who gave acclaim to Jesus because they thought of the temporal benefits that He could provide for them. They thought that He would usher in the age of peace and prosperity.
Their hopes were fueled by those who had seen Jesus call Lazarus from the tomb, who were telling others about this spectacular miracle (John 12:17-18). If Jesus had done this for Lazarus, surely He could meet their needs as well. John adds (12:16) that even the disciples did not understand these things at first. It was only after Jesus was raised from the dead and ascended into heaven (“glorified”) that they connected the dots between the Old Testament prophecies and what the crowd had done to Jesus. So even the disciples were pretty much in line with the crowd that day, viewing Jesus as the political savior. As a result, their faith in Him was severely shaken until they saw Him after He was raised from the dead.
The application is that your faith will be shaken and perhaps even destroyed if you follow Jesus because of what you think He can give you in terms of financial prosperity, good health, and other temporal benefits. But what if you contract a serious illness? What if you suffer a severe financial loss? What if your marriage isn’t the storybook, ideal romance that you thought He would give you? What if your children don’t follow the Lord or if they turn against you?
As Hebrews 11:29-35a shows, God can and does give dramatic victories to His people. But right in the middle of verse 35, it shifts, as verses 35b-38 show people who trust in God but are mocked, scourged, imprisoned, and martyred. The reward is not in this life, but in the life to come. The health and wealth teaching is heresy that leads people into disappointment and destruction of their faith when things don’t turn out as the false teachers said they would. We shouldn’t follow Jesus because we think He will give us all the goodies we want in this life.
Well, then, why should we follow Jesus?
2. Follow Jesus because of who He is: God’s Messiah and King.
If your faith rests on the person of Jesus Christ as revealed in Scripture, then you will not be shaken whether you go to prison or are blessed with prosperity. You may suffer terrible health and die young or you may enjoy good health, but your faith does not rest on happy circumstances, but on who Jesus is and on what He has promised His children throughout eternity. Our text reveals several lines of proof that Jesus is God’s Messiah and King:
A. Fulfilled prophecies prove that Jesus is God’s Messiah and King.
John mentions two Old Testament prophecies that Jesus fulfilled on Palm Sunday. We have already looked at the first, Psalm 118:25-26:
O Lord, do save, we beseech You;
O Lord, we beseech You, do send prosperity!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord;
We have blessed you from the house of the Lord.
The Jews understood this to refer to Messiah (Carson, ibid.). Just before these verses the psalm cites the lines that Jesus applied to Himself (Ps. 118:22-23; Matt. 21:42):
The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief corner stone.
This is the Lord’s doing;
It is marvelous in our eyes.
John also refers to the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9:
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
He is just and endowed with salvation,
Humble, and mounted on a donkey,
Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
John (12:15) cites an abbreviated form of the quote: “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your King is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” “Fear not” replaces “Rejoice greatly.” Perhaps John wants to assure his Jewish readers, living after the destruction of Jerusalem, not to fear in spite of that disaster, because Jesus still is the King of Israel. John Calvin (Calvin’s Commentaries [Baker], p. 23) applies it to us: “Never is tranquility restored to our minds, or fear and trembling banished from them, except by knowing that Christ reigns amongst us.” He goes on to say that now that our King has come, we ought to contend with our fears, so that “we may peacefully and joyfully honor our King.”
John’s point in referring to Zechariah’s prophecy is to show that Jesus in His first coming was not the conquering King, riding on a war horse, but a humble King, offering Himself as the sacrifice for our sins (Carson, p. 433). Later (Rev. 19:11), John sees Jesus coming again on a white horse to judge and wage war. But in His first coming, Jesus was the suffering Messiah-King, offering peace and salvation. Psalm 118 and Zechariah 9 are just two of many prophecies that confirm Jesus’ identity as Messiah and King.
B. Jesus’ works of power prove that He is God’s Messiah and King.
John does not mention that the young colt on which Jesus rode was unbroken, which was a miracle. If you don’t think so, try riding an unbroken colt sometime! But he does again mention (12:17) that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. In all, John gives seven of Jesus’ miracles (or signs) that He performed before His resurrection, plus the miraculous catch of fish (John 21). John reported these signs (John 20:31), “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.”
C. Jesus’ control of His circumstances under the Father’s timetable proves that He is God’s Messiah and King.
John does not elaborate in this story as the other Gospels do that Jesus deliberately arranged for the colt to ride on. But throughout his Gospel, he has repeatedly shown that Jesus was in control of all His circumstances, under the Father’s sovereign timetable. Since John 5, the opposition to Jesus has been mounting, with repeated attempts to kill Him, but in every case, Jesus was protected, because His hour had not yet come. After Jesus’ claims to deity in John 8, the Jews picked up stones to stone Him (John 8:59), but Jesus went out of their midst unharmed. Again in John 10, the Jewish leaders accused Jesus of blasphemy and tried again to stone Him, because He claimed to be one with the Father. But (John 10:39), “He eluded their grasp.”
After Jesus raised Lazarus, the Jewish leaders intensified their attempts to kill Him (John 11:53), but Jesus withdrew, because His time had not yet come. But now, six days before the Passover, Jesus knew that His hour had come to offer Himself as the Lamb of God (John 12:23). So, He changed His ministry strategy and openly presented Himself as the Jewish Messiah, even though He knew that the crowds had a mistaken view of their Messiah. He forced the Jewish leaders to go against their plan not to kill Him during the feast. They inadvertently killed the true Passover Lamb even as the other Passover lambs were being killed. Acts 4:27-28 sums it up well: “For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.” Jesus was in control even over His own death. He did not die as a helpless victim, but as the willing sacrifice for our sins.
So the applied message of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry is: Make sure that you follow Him because of who He is, not because of what you think He might provide for you in this life. He does provide forgiveness of sins and eternal life to all who believe in Him. But with that gift may come hardship and persecution. But there’s one final thought in our text:
3. You can oppose Jesus and succeed in the short run, but in the long run you will lose and He will win.
John 12:19 mentions the frustration of the Pharisees as they saw the crowds exalting Jesus as He rode into Jerusalem: “So the Pharisees said to one another, ‘You see that you are not doing any good; look, the world has gone after Him.’” This is another example of John’s irony. The Pharisees meant, “Everyone is going after Jesus. Our efforts to get rid of Him have failed!” But John wants us to see that although by the end of that week, the tide had turned and Jewish leaders were gloating in their victory, it was short-lived. Jesus arose from the dead and when John wrote, the gospel was going out to the whole world, to Jews and Gentiles alike. This anticipates the next paragraph, where the Greeks want to see Jesus.
Interestingly, in Revelation 7:9-10, John reports another scene with palm branches (the only other time palm branches are mentioned in the New Testament):
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
That scene shows us the ultimate triumph of the Lamb! The Jewish leaders succeeded in crucifying Him, but He will reign over all throughout eternity. John is making the point that you can oppose Jesus and in the short run, it may look as if you’ve succeeded in your rebellion. But in the long run, Jesus will win and you will lose if you have not yielded to Him before He comes again.
So, why do you follow Jesus? Someone may say, “I am following Jesus because I want Him to give me a godly marriage partner.” That’s a legitimate need that He can supply, but that shouldn’t be your main reason to follow Jesus. Or, you may follow Jesus because you want Him to heal your marriage. Again, He can do that, but that’s not the main reason you should follow Him. Some may say, “I follow Jesus because I have many deep emotional hurts from my past, and I want Him to heal me.” Again, He can do that, but it’s not the main reason to follow Him.
The right reason to follow Jesus is because of who He is: God’s Anointed One, the rightful King over every heart and life. He died for your sins, arose from the grave, and is coming back in power and glory to reign over all. So whether you struggle with tribulation, distress, persecution, poverty, health issues, or death itself, you can overwhelmingly conquer if your faith is in Him as your Lord and Savior (Rom. 8:35-37)! Follow Jesus because of who He is, not for the temporal benefits that He might give you.
- Is it okay to appeal to people to trust in Christ so that He can solve their personal problems? Cite biblical support.
- What expectations did you have when you put your trust in Christ? Were they biblically legitimate expectations?
- Have you experienced disappointment with God? What was the source of your disappointment? How did you deal with it?
- Are there any areas of your life (work, finances, relationships, goals, use of time, etc.) where Jesus is not your King? What specifically do you need to do to yield these areas to Him?
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
The Net Pastor's Journal, Eng Ed, Issue 12 Summer 2014
Summer 2014 Edition
Produced by ...
Dr. Roger Pascoe, President,
The Institute for Biblical Preaching
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
“Strengthening the Church in Biblical Preaching and Leadership”
Part I: Preparing For Preaching
“Selecting Texts and Topics”
By: Dr. Roger Pascoe
The Institute for Biblical Preaching,
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
In the last edition of the Net Pastors Journal, we looked at some biblical principles and some good practices for selecting preaching texts and topics. In this edition, I want to continue that discussion with....
Some Helpful Procedures For Text Selection
1. Ask Yourself Some Theological Questions 1
a) Am I covering the whole scope of biblical teaching? - Old and New Testaments, historical narratives, wisdom literature, gospels, epistles etc.?
b) Am I covering the whole range of biblical doctrines? – God, man, sin, salvation, heaven and hell etc.?
c) Am I dealing with the whole range of biblical applications? - to old and young, parents and children, men and women, church and community?
2. Ask Yourself Some Practical Questions
a) What has been the focus of recent preaching in the church?
b) What spiritual events and situations have recently happened in the church?
c) What is the spiritual condition of the people right now?
d) What aspect of truth is required to strengthen the people?
e) Is there a particular aspect of truth that the church really needs to hear?
3. Consider the value of preaching a series through biblical books.
Book series follow the text as the biblical writer wrote it under inspiration. You wouldn’t study any other book the way some preachers select their preaching texts – i.e. a paragraph from this book one week or a paragraph from another book the next week or reading the conclusion before the story.
If you preach sequentially through a book, your audience will understand your sermons within their context.
Book series allow you to preach topical messages while preaching through a specific section of the Bible. For example, you can take topics from your sermons which you don’t have time to deal with fully in one sermon and develop them for individual messages.
Book series develop greater biblical literacy in your congregation. You will teach them the introductory and interpretive issues of the book. You will teach them the biblical theology of the book. They will see where the book fits into redemptive history.
Book series provide a consistent context for the congregation. They understand the context of all the messages within the series. They can study along as you preach and, thus, gain greater understanding. They know where you are going to preach from next week. This gives them a sense of coherence to the messages. They understand how the messages fit together. They can understand key theological truths as they are presented within the biblical book.
Book series maximize the use of your study time. You only have to study the context, background etc. once, and you only have to explain it to your congregation once.
Book series can be approached differently. You can start with Genesis and work through the Bible. You can balance your preaching between O.T. books and N.T. books, between Gospels and Epistles, Law and History, Psalms and Wisdom, Prophecy and Apocalyptic. You can present books series in different ways:
- thematically, doctrinally, or theologically
- paragraph by paragraph or chapter by chapter
- key texts within a book
- key sections (e.g. the 3 sevens of John’s Gospel – 7 discourses; 7 miracles; 7 “I am” statements)
- an overview of whole books of the Bible in one message
- character studies or historical events
4. Consider the value of freedom and variety in text selection.
Even though you may be preaching a book series, that does not mean that that is all you preach. Add variety by running several series at a time or by mixing individual messages in with series messages. For example, you could preach a series for your communion services, another series at your Sunday morning services, and yet another series at your Sunday evening services.
Other possibilities for freedom and variety include: biographical studies; thematic studies; social issues; Christian growth and discipleship series; evangelistic services.
Freedom and variety have definite advantages. They keep people interested and prevent boredom. They keep balance in the ministry. They keep the preacher fresh. They keep you open to the Spirit.
5. Consider Your Personal Gifting.
Preaching needs to be exercised within the context of the total ministry needs of the church. Other preachers may need to be utilized where you may not be gifted for a particular line of preaching (e.g. evangelism). In this way, the church benefits from being exposed to a variety of preaching gifts.
6. Consider Time Demands.
Because of the time demands on a pastor, you should consider a balance between preaching new sermons with sermons that have been partially prepared on a previous occasion but never used, or sermons that you have preached before. In this way you balance your preparation time for new messages (which take the most time to prepare) with old messages that take less time to prepare.
Weeks that become crowded by unexpected events (e.g. funerals) may require that you make use of someone else to preach, or that you preach a sermon you have given previously.
7. Consider The Following Questions.
a) What do you sense God leading you preach on for this occasion?
b) What text and topic is needed for this particular occasion?
c) What aspect of God’s revelation is called for, needs to be preached, is right for this occasion?
8. Consider The Following Guidelines.
a) If you have decided to preach a series, the text selection may be predetermined - i.e. either the next literary unit in a book series, or the next doctrine in a theological or thematic series. In any event, determine how long the series is to be. It’s probably wise not to make a series more than 10 or 12 weeks (unless it is broken up with other messages for other occasions).
b) If you have decided to preach topical messages, approach your text selection process by trying to select one text that presents fully each theme or doctrine in question, so that you can exposit that text and then make references to other appropriate texts (rather than jumping all over the place without a primary text). A primary text provides a textual focus for study rather than just a thematic focus and you give your audience a text to hang on to. They may forget all the other references that you turned to, but they will more likely remember your primary text.
9. Consider The Following Boundaries.
a) The boundary of a literary unit of text (a paragraph or chapter or even several chapters if it is a long narrative). In the text selection process, make sure that you select a literary unit. Know what the divisions of the text are within the literature. Make sure you are dealing with a complete unit of text. Ask yourself:
- In what sense is this text really a literary unit, a unified paragraph?
- Does it have a specific or clear theme?
- Does the text have a complete theme or thought within its context?
b) The boundary of the literary genre. The literary genre determines how you interpret it and how you apply it.
c) The boundary of the original author’s intended meaning of the text. Do not arbitrarily select a text to make it say what you want it to say – that is an abuse of the text. Be fair and faithful to what the original writer intended to convey. The sermon may focus on a section of a literary unit or it may combine several units, but whatever you select you have to know what you have selected (in terms of where it fits into the overall literary unit) and what the original writer intended to convey in the full unit.
Text selection is the beginning place for preparing a specific sermon. After you have selected your text, then you can make decisions like how much text to read in the service; when it will be read; who will read it. Be prayerful. Be careful. Know the text. Know the people. Know the occasion. Be sensitive to the Spirit.
Part II: Leadership – Being A Godly Role Model
“Your Personal Surrender to the Holy Spirit,” Pt. 2
In the Spring 2014 edition of the NET Pastors Journal, we began our study of Ephesians 5:18-6:20 on the subject of “Your Personal Surrender to the Holy Spirit.” In that edition we looked at “The Meaning of the Spirit-Filled Life” (Eph. 5:18). In this edition, we continue that study by looking at...
The Necessity Of The Spirit-Filled Life
You may ask, why is the filling of the Spirit a necessity? First, it’s a necessity because the Word of God commands it. Notice that it is an imperative: Be filled! (Eph. 5:18). C. H. Spurgeon said, “This is not a promise to claim, but a command to be obeyed.” Since this is the command of God, to not obey it is sin.
Second, it’s a necessity because the work of God demands it. When Peter was preaching in Acts 4:8, he was filled with the Holy Spirit. Similarly also Stephen (Acts 7:55) and Paul (Acts 13:9). Effective preaching is the product of a Spirit-filled preacher and the Spirit-inspired Word acting together to produce a Spirit-transformed life. If we want to be effective in the work of God, we must be filled with the Spirit
The Reality Of The Spirit-Filled Life
How can this be a reality in my life? It can be a reality in my life through the initial acceptance of the Holy Spirit’s control. Notice that it’s the passive voice: be filled – i.e. let the Holy Spirit fill you; relinquish control; accept the control of the Holy Spirit, not for us to get more of him, but for him to get more of us.
It’s the present continuous tense: Go on being filled… This isn’t a one-time experience as with the indwelling and baptism of the Spirit, which occurs once at the time of conversion. This is something that should be a continuous reality in our lives all the time.
It can be a reality in my life through continued dependence on the Holy Spirit’s control. Continued dependence on the Holy Spirit’s control means not grieving the Spirit (Eph. 4:30). The reality of being filled with the Spirit can be realized by erasing anything in your life that grieves the Spirit of God. So, we must not allow sin in our lives – we must crucify it (Gal. 5:24). Put to death the “self” in your life – nail it to the cross, thus taking it out of the way (Col. 2:14). Be sensitive to sin just like the eyeball is sensitive to dirt. We cannot walk in the Spirit if we are not aware immediately when we grieve the Spirit. We must confess sin immediately – name it and nail it (1 Jn. 1:9).
Continued dependence on the Holy Spirit’s control means not quenching the Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19). The reality of being filled with the Spirit can be realized by not permitting anything in your life that quenches the Spirit. Don’t put out the fire of the Spirit by taking glory from God for yourself or by shutting down the activity of the Spirit and replacing it with the work of the flesh.
Lastly, continued dependence on the Holy Spirit’s control means being filled with the Spirit (5:18). Allowing the Holy Spirit to do his work in you - teaching you, illuminating you, comforting you, guiding you, convicting you of sin. The result of this will be the manifestation of the “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22) in our lives.
Part III: Devotional Thoughts
“Manna in the Morning”
By: Stephen F. Olford
We continue with Dr. Stephen Olford’s exhortation on the necessity and the practice of maintaining a vibrant devotional life in his little booklet called, “Manna in the Morning.” Last time I published the first part of this booklet, dealing with the reasons and requirements for a quiet time with God. Now here is the second part.
“Be sure to come to your quiet time with a spirit of expectancy. I believe that such expectancy has at least three contributing factors.
There is first of all the physical factor. You cannot go to bed at all hours of the night and expect to get up fresh n the morning. Going to bed when you ought to takes discipline, and some of these social occasions that you enjoy may be sweet; but they are not as precious or vital as your quiet time.
There’s a moral factor, too, in this matter of expectancy. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Ps. 66:18). When there’s something in your life which is out of line with the will of God, don’t expect to have fellowship with Him. If you have something against this person or that, leave your gift at the altar and go and be reconciled first.
Then there’s a spiritual factor involved in this matter of expectancy. You’ll find it stated in John 7:17: “If anyone wants to do...he shall know concerning the doctrine” – that is, shall know the teaching. Revelation and obedience are like parallel lines. As you obey, so He reveals. When you cease to obey, He ceases to reveal.
My experience is this: when I have tried to pray and read the Word and found it impossible to “get through,” so to speak, so that the Bible has become a dead book to me; on examination, I’ve discovered that there was an issue of obedience on which I had not followed through. And before proceeding with my quite time, I have had to get right with God.
We have considered the reasons for the quite time. We have considered the requirements of the quite time. Now let me share with you several simple rules that I feel help me in my daily time with God.
The first rule is waiting. Samuel Chadwick says, “Hurry is the death of prayer.” You can get more from the Lord in five minutes spent unhurriedly than in thirty-five minutes with your eye on the clock.
Hush yourself in His presence. Wait until the glory of His presence seems to come upon you. Seek the power of concentration. Seek the cleansing. Seek the illumination of the Spirit. Above all, seek to consciously come into His presence.
From waiting go on to reading. Read from the Word of God. I believe with George Muller that you can never pray aright until He has spoken to you from His Word. When I say reading, I mean, of course, the passage set aside for that particular day. God save you from the “lucky dip” method. Such a practice is an insult to the sacredness of the Word of God.
Read the portion at least three times. Read it carefully to discover what is there generally. The next time, peruse it for what is there specially. Then study it for what is there personally.
Move from reading to thinking or meditation. Look at the passage in the presence of God.
Say: “Lord, as I look at this passage this morning, is there any command to obey? Is there any promise to claim? Is the are new thought to follow and pursue? Is there any sin to avoid? Is there an new thought about God, about the Lord Jesus, about the Holy Spirit, about the devil?” Seek to discover what God is saying to you from the passage you have read.
From meditation go on to what I call recording. Take that notebook that you keep just for your quite time and jot down briefly what the Lord has said to you. Always make it personal. Always make it devotional. Put it down in such a devotional, personal way that it will be a message to your soul.
Now pray. Praying has three aspects in your quite time. First there is adjustment. Take the message the Lord has given you – the message recorded briefly in your quite time notebook – and pray it back to Him. That’s one great secret of keeping your prayers alive and fresh. Pray it back until God’s will becomes your will in relation to the particular message He has spoken to you.
Then adore him. Pour out your soul to Him. Thank Him. Think of His majesty and glory and mercy, and revel in the sunshine of His presence. Talk as a child to his father, as a servant to his master. And listen - as a lover to his beloved.
Only then do you come to asking. Present your requests not only for yourself but for others. Intercede for others.
After prayer, there are two more very important steps which I believe are essential to the quite time. One is sharing. Share God’s message to you with somebody – that day.
What you share you enjoy. What you share you keep. The manna God’s people gathered every day had to be shared and eaten. When hoarded it bred worms and stank. You can always tell the person who merely hoards what he gets in his quite time.
Most important of all, obey. Get up from your knees and say, “Lord Jesus, as I face this day, I ask You by the power of Your indwelling Spirit to give me the grace to translate into action what You have told me to do this morning.” Then go out and obey.
God’s best for you is closely linked with this daily meeting with Him. The barometer of your Christian life can be observed by the attention you give to your quite time every day.
You cannot tell me that you have surrendered to God, that Jesus Christ is Lord of your life, or that you know the fullness of the Holy Spirit, unless you have your Manna in the Morning. May your prayer be:
“Help me, O Lord, Thy Word to read,
Upon the living bread to feed,
Seeking Thy Spirit’s quickening lead,
That I may please Thee in all things.”
Part IV: Sermon Outlines
John 13:12-17, Jesus’ Dialogue with the Disciples
Title: True Servanthood (continued – see Spring 2014 edition for points 1 and 2)
Point #3: We must imitate the nature of true servanthood (12-17)
1. By remembering that the Lord is our Master (12-13, 16)
2. By doing for each other what Jesus has done for us (14-15)
3. By practising what we preach (17)
1 Adapted from Sinclair B. Ferguson, “Exegesis,” in Preacher and Preaching: Reviving the Art in the Twentieth century, 197, cited in Stephen Olford, Anointed Expository Preaching, 91-92.
Related Topics: Pastors
La Revue Internet Des Pasteurs, Fre Ed 12, Edition du l’été 2014
Cette revue est aussi disponible en langues anglaise, russe et roumaine
Edition de l’été 2014
Sous la direction du
Dr Roger Pascoe, Président de
l’Institut pour la Prédication Biblique
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
Institut Biblique pour le Ministère Pastoral
Renforcer les capacités de l’Eglise dans la prédication biblique et le leadership
1ère Partie: La Préparation De La Prédication
“Le choix du texte et du thème”
Par: Dr. Roger Pascoe,
Président de l'Institut pour la prédication biblique,
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
Dans la dernière édition de la Revue Internet des Pasteurs, nous avons examiné quelques principes bibliques et quelques bonnes pratiques pour le choix des textes et thèmes de prédication. Dans la présente édition, je voudrais continuer cette réflexion en évoquant ....
Quelques Idees Utiles Pour Le Choix Du Texte
1. Posez-vous quelques questions théologiques1
a) Est-ce que je tiens compte de toute l’étendue de l'enseignement biblique? – l’ancien et le nouveau testament, les récits historiques, les livres de sagesse, les évangiles, les épîtres, etc.?
b) Est-ce que je tiens compte de l'ensemble des doctrines bibliques? - Dieu, l'homme, le péché, le salut, le ciel et l'enfer, etc.?
c) Est-ce que je tiens compte toutes les sortes d’applications bibliques? - Pour les anciens et les jeunes, les parents et les enfants, les hommes et les femmes, l'église et la communauté?
2. Posez-vous quelques questions pratiques
a) Quel a été le point central de la récente prédication dans l'église?
b) Quels événements spirituels ou situations se sont récemment produits dans l'église?
c) Quelle est la condition spirituelle des fidèles en ce moment?
d) Quel aspect de la vérité est nécessaire pour fortifier les fidèles?
e) Y a t-il un aspect particulier de la vérité que l’assemblée a vraiment besoin d'entendre?
3. Considérez la valeur de la prédication en série dans les livres bibliques
Une série de prédication dans un livre permet de suivre le texte tel que l'auteur biblique l’a écrit sous inspiration. Vous ne voudriez pas aborder le livre à la manière de certains qui manquent de ligne directrice - c'est à dire un paragraphe dans ce livre cette semaine et un paragraphe dans cet autre livre de la semaine d’après, ou encore lire la conclusion avant l'histoire elle même.
Si vous prêchez de façon séquentielle dans un livre, votre audience comprendra vos messages dans leur contexte.
Les séries vous permettent de prêcher des messages thématiques tout en prêchant en série dans une section spécifique de la Bible. Par exemple, vous pouvez prendre des sujets que vous n'avez pas le temps de traiter entièrement dans un seul message et de les développer dans différents messages.
Les séries développent une plus grande culture biblique dans votre assemblée. Vous pourrez leur enseigner le contexte du livre et les questions liées à son interprétation. Vous pourrez leur enseigner la théologie biblique du livre. Ils pourront ainsi voir comment ce livre se situe par rapport à l'histoire du salut.
Les séries fournissent un contexte cohérent pour votre assemblée. Ils peuvent ainsi comprendre le contexte de chaque message de la série. Ils peuvent étudier le livre pendant que vous prêchez la série et, ainsi, acquérir une plus grande compréhension. Ils savent où vous allez prêcher la semaine d’après. Cela leur donne un sens de la cohérence des messages. Ils comprennent comment les messages s'imbriquent. Ils peuvent comprendre les vérités théologiques clés telles qu'elles sont présentées dans le livre biblique.
Les séries permettent d’optimiser l'utilisation de votre temps d'étude. Vous étudiez le contexte une seule fois, puis vous n’avez qu’à l’expliquer à votre assemblée une seule fois.
Les séries peuvent être abordées de façons différentes. Vous pouvez commencer par la Genèse et progresser tout au long de la Bible. Vous pouvez aussi équilibrer votre prédication en alternant entre les livres de l’ancien et ceux du nouveau testament, entre évangiles et épîtres, livres de la loi et livres historiques, psaumes et livres de sagesse, prophétie et apocalypse, etc. Vous pouvez présenter la série de différentes manières:
- de façons thématiques, doctrinales, ou théologiques ;
- par paragraphe ou par chapitre ;
- par textes clés dans un livre ;
- par sections clés (par exemple les 3 septs de l'Evangile de Jean – les 7 discours de Jésus; les 7 miracles de Jésus; les 7 déclarations en « Je suis » de Jésus) ;
- un aperçu de livres entiers de la Bible en un seul message ;
- des études de caractère ou d’événements historiques.
4. Prenez en compte la liberté et la variété dans le choix des textes
Lorsque vous êtes en train de prêcher une série dans un livre, cela ne signifie pas que c'est uniquement ce que vous pouvez prêchez. Vous pouvez apporter de la variété en mettant en œuvre plusieurs séries à la fois ou en intercalant des messages individuels entre les messages en série. Par exemple, vous pouvez prêcher une série les jours où vous célébrez la sainte cène, une autre série au cours de vos cultes ordinaires du dimanche matin, et encore une autre série au cours de vos cultes du soir.
Autres possibilités de liberté et de variété: les études biographiques; les études thématiques; les problèmes de société; la croissance spirituelle et la vie de disciples; les messages d’évangélisation.
La liberté et la variété ont des avantages certains. Ils permettent de garder les gens intéressés et d’éviter l'ennui. Ils permettent de garder l'équilibre dans le ministère. Ils permettent au prédicateur de garder sa fraicheur. Ils vous permettent de rester ouvert à l'Esprit.
5. Tenez compte les dons personnels
La prédication doit être faite dans le cadre de l’ensemble des besoins du ministère dans l'église. Vous pouvez faire appel à d’autres prédicateurs dans les domaines où vous n’avez pas de dons particuliers (par exemple l'évangélisation). De la sorte, l'église peut bénéficier du fait d'être exposé à une variété de dons en matière de prédication.
6. Prenez en compte les contraintes de temps
En raison des contraintes de temps, vous devriez envisager un équilibre entre la prédication de nouveaux messages et les messages qui ont été partiellement préparés à d’autres occasions, mais qui n’ont jamais été utilisés, ou encore des messages que vous avez prêché auparavant. De cette façon, vous apportez un équilibre entre votre temps de préparation des nouveaux messages (qui prennent le plus de temps) et les anciens messages (qui demandent moins de temps de préparation).
Les semaines surchargées à cause des événements inattendus (par exemple les funérailles) peuvent vous conduire à solliciter quelqu'un d'autre pour prêcher, ou alors à prêcher un message que vous aviez donné auparavant.
7. Examinez les questions suivantes :
a) Qu'est-ce que vous sentez que Dieu vous conduit à prêcher en cette occasion particulière?
b) Quel texte ou sujet est nécessaire pour cette occasion particulière?
c) Quel aspect de la révélation de Dieu est nécessaire, ou a besoin d’être prêché, ou est approprié pour cette occasion?
8. Suivez les instructions suivantes.
a) Si vous avez décidé de prêcher une série, le choix des textes peut être prédéterminé - soit le paragraphe suivant, soit la prochaine doctrine dans une série théologique ou thématique. En tout état de cause, déterminez combien de temps la série va prendre. Il est probablement plus sage de ne pas faire une série de plus de 10 ou 12 semaines (sauf s'il est intercalé par d'autres messages circonstanciels).
b) Si vous avez décidé de prêcher des messages thématiques, choisissez des textes qui présentent de façon complète chaque thème ou doctrine, de sorte que vous puissiez expliquer ce texte, tout en faisant des références/renvois à d'autres textes similaires (plutôt que sauter dans tous les sens en l’absence d’un texte de base). Le texte de base attire l’attention sur les éléments textuels plutôt que sur des points thématiques et donne à votre audience un texte auquel s’accrocher. Ils peuvent oublier toutes les autres références, mais ils seront plus susceptibles de se souvenir de votre texte de base.
9. Prenez en compte les contraintes suivantes
a) La contrainte de l’unité littéraire de texte (un paragraphe ou un chapitre ou même plusieurs chapitres s'il s'agit d'un long récit). Dans le processus de choix du texte, assurez-vous d’avoir sélectionné une unité littéraire. Assurez-vous que vous avez affaire à une unité complète de texte. Posez-vous les questions:
- Dans quel sens ce texte est il vraiment une unité littéraire, un paragraphe unifié?
- Cette sélection a t elle un thème précis ou clair?
- Est-ce que le texte possède un thème complet ou une pensée complète dans son contexte?
b) La contrainte du genre littéraire. Le genre littéraire détermine la façon dont vous interprétez le texte et comment vous l'appliquez.
c) La contrainte de l’intention originale de l'auteur du texte. Ne choisissez pas arbitrairement un texte pour lui faire dire ce que vous voulez dire – ce serait un abus du texte. Soyez juste et fidèle à ce que l'écrivain voulait transmettre à l’origine. Le message peut se concentrer sur une section d'une unité littéraire ou combiner plusieurs unités, mais quoi que vous choisissiez, vous devez savoir ce que vous avez choisi (là où il s'insère dans l'unité littéraire globale) et ce que l'écrivain d'origine avait l'intention de transmettre dans l’entièreté de l'unité.
Le choix du texte est là où commence la préparation d’un message spécifique. Après avoir déterminé votre texte, vous pouvez décider de la longueur du texte à lire pendant le culte; à quel moment le texte sera lu; qui le lira, etc. Soyez dans un esprit de prière. Soyez prudent. Connaissez le texte. Connaissez votre audience. Connaissez les circonstances de la prédication. Soyez sensible à l'Esprit.
2eme Partie: Le Leadership - Etre Un Modele Selon Le Cœur De Dieu
«L’abandon de votre personne au Saint Esprit» 2ème partie
Par: Dr Roger Pascoe
L'Institut pour la prédication biblique
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
Dans l’édition du printemps 2014 de la Revue Internet des Pasteurs, nous avons commencé notre étude d'Ephésiens 5:18-6:20 sur le thème «L’abandon de votre personne au Saint Esprit ». Dans cet article nous avions examiné «La signification de la plénitude de l'Esprit» (Eph. 5:18). Dans le présent numéro, nous continuons cette étude en examinant ...
La Necessite De La Plenitude De L'Esprit
Vous pouvez vous demander, pourquoi la plénitude de l'Esprit est une nécessité. Tout d'abord, c'est une nécessité parce que la Parole de Dieu l’ordonne. Notez que c'est un impératif: Soyez remplis! (Eph. 5:18). CH Spurgeon a dit: «Ce n'est pas une promesse à réclamer, mais un commandement auquel obéir ». Puisque c'est un commandement de Dieu, ne pas y obéir est un péché.
Deuxièmement, c'est une nécessité parce que l’œuvre de Dieu l'exige. Lorsque Pierre a prêché dans Actes 4:8, il était rempli du Saint-Esprit. Il en était de même pour Etienne (Actes 7:55) et Paul (Actes 13:9). La prédication est efficace lorsque le prédicateur rempli de l'Esprit et la Parole inspirée par l'Esprit agissent ensemble pour produire une vie transformée par l'Esprit. Si nous voulons être efficaces dans l'œuvre de Dieu, nous devons être remplis de l'Esprit
La Réalité De La Penitude De L'Esprit
Comment cela peut-il être une réalité dans ma vie? C’est possible dans ma vie par l'acceptation initiale du contrôle de l'Esprit Saint. Remarquez bien que la phrase est à la voix passive: soyez remplis - c'est-à-dire, laissez le Saint-Esprit vous remplir; renoncez à avoir le contrôle; acceptez le contrôle de l'Esprit Saint, non pas pour que vous possédiez plus de Lui, mais pour que Lui il possède plus de vous.
La phrase est au présent continu: continuez d’être remplis ... Ce n'est pas une expérience unique comme la survenue et le baptême de l'Esprit, qui se produit une fois au moment de la conversion. C'est quelque chose qui devrait être une réalité permanente dans notre vie tout le temps.
Cela peut aussi être une réalité dans ma vie par le fait de dépendre continuellement du contrôle de l'Esprit Saint. Dépendre continuellement du contrôle de l'Esprit Saint signifie ne pas attrister de l'Esprit (Eph. 4:30). Pour que la plénitude de l'Esprit devienne une réalité dans notre vie il nous faudra effacer de notre vie tout ce qui attriste l'Esprit de Dieu. Ainsi donc, nous ne devons pas tolérer le péché dans nos vies - nous devons le crucifier (Gal. 5:24). Mettre à mort notre «moi» - le clouer à la croix, l’enlevant ainsi de notre chemin (Col. 2:14). Soyez sensible au péché comme l’œil est sensible aux corps étrangers. Nous ne pouvons pas marcher dans l'Esprit si nous ne sommes pas sensibles et conscients dès l’instant où nous attristons l'Esprit. Nous devons confesser le péché immédiatement - le nommer et le clouer (1 Jean 1,9)..
Dépendre continuellement du contrôle de l'Esprit Saint signifie ne pas éteindre l'Esprit (1 Thess. 5:19). La plénitude de l'Esprit peut être réalisée en n’admettant pas dans votre vie quoi que ce soit qui éteigne l'Esprit. N’éteignez pas le feu de l'Esprit en prenant la gloire de Dieu pour vous-même ou en mettant fin à l'activité de l'Esprit pour la remplacer par les œuvres de la chair.
Enfin, dépendre continuellement du contrôle de l'Esprit Saint signifie être rempli de l'Esprit (5:18). Permettre à l'Esprit Saint de faire son œuvre en vous, c'est-à-dire en vous enseignant, en vous éclairant, consolant, guidant ; en vous convaincant de péché. Le résultat de tout ceci étant la manifestation du «fruit de l'Esprit» (Gal. 5:22) dans votre vie.
3ème Partie : Meditation Biblique
«La Manne du matin»
Par le Dr Stephen F. Olford
Nous continuons avec l'exhortation du Dr Stephen Olford sur la nécessité et la manière de maintenir une vie de dévotion dynamique dans son petit livret intitulé, «La Manne du matin.» La dernière fois j'ai publié la première partie de cette brochure, portant sur les raisons et les exigences de la méditation personnelle. Maintenant, voici la deuxième partie.
«Assurez-vous de commencer votre temps de méditation dans un esprit d’expectative. Je crois que cette expectative a au moins trois facteurs favorables.
Il est tout d'abord le facteur physique. Vous ne pouvez pas aller au lit à n’importe quelle heure de la nuit et vous attendre de vous lever tout frais le matin. Cela demande de la discipline d’aller au lit au moment qu’il faut. Ces activités sociales que vous aimez tant peuvent bien être intéressantes; mais elles ne sont pas aussi précieuses ou vitales que votre méditation personnelle.
Il ya aussi un facteur moral dans l’expectative. « Si j’avais conçu l’iniquité dans mon cœur, le Seigneur ne m’aurait pas exaucé.» (Psaume 66:18). Lorsqu’il ya quelque chose dans votre vie qui s’oppose à la volonté de Dieu, ne vous attendez pas à être en communion avec Lui. Si vous avez quelque chose contre quelqu’un, laissez votre offrande sur l'autel, et allez d'abord vous réconcilier.
Ensuite, il ya un facteur spirituel dans l’expectative. Vous verrez qu'il dit dans Jean 7:17: «Si quelqu’un veut faire sa volonté, il connaîtra si ma doctrine est de Dieu.» - c'est à dire, il aura l'enseignement, la révélation. La révélation et l'obéissance sont comme des lignes parallèles. A mesure que vous obéissez, Il vous révèle davantage. Lorsque vous cessez d'obéir, il cesse de révéler.
Mon expérience est la suivante: chaque fois que j'ai essayé de prier et lire la Parole et que j’étais dans l'impossibilité de le faire, au point que la Bible était devenue comme un livre mort pour moi; en y réfléchissant bien, j'ai chaque fois découvert qu'il y avait un problème d'obéissance dans ma vie. Et avant de continuer ma méditation, j’ai dû mettre les choses en règle avec Dieu.
Nous avons examiné les raisons pour lesquelles il faut avoir son temps de méditation personnelle. Et nous avons examiné ses exigences. Maintenant, permettez-moi de partager avec vous quelques règles simples qui m’aident beaucoup dans mon temps quotidien avec Dieu.
La première règle est l’attente dans la patience. Samuel Chadwick dit, «la précipitation tue la prière» Vous recevrez plus de la part Seigneur en cinq minutes passées dans la tranquillité qu’en trente-cinq minutes passées avec un œil sur l'horloge.
Faites silence dans sa présence. Attendez jusqu'à sentir comme si la gloire de sa présence vient sur vous. Cherchez le pouvoir de la concentration. Cherchez la sanctification. Cherchez l'illumination de l'Esprit. Par-dessus tout, cherchez à entrer de façon consciente dans Sa présence.
Après l’attente, passez à la lecture. Lisez dans la Parole de Dieu. Comme George Muller, je crois que vous ne pourrez jamais prier correctement tant qu’il ne vous a pas parlé dans sa Parole. Quand je dis lecture, je veux dire, bien sûr, le passage mis de côté pour ce jour particulier. Que Dieu vous préserve de la méthode dite de la «plongée bienheureuse». Cette pratique hasardeuse est une insulte au caractère sacré de la Parole de Dieu.
Lisez la portion au moins trois fois. Lisez-la attentivement pour découvrir ce qui est là de façon général. Ensuite, décortiquez-la attentivement pour ce qui s’y trouve de particulier. Enfin, étudiez-la pour tirer ce qui est là pour vous personnellement.
Passez de la lecture à la réflexion ou à la méditation. Regardez le passage dans la présence de Dieu.
Dites: «Seigneur, alors que je regarde ce passage ce matin, y a t-il un commandement à obéir? Y a t-il une promesse à réclamer? Y a-t-il de nouvelles idées à approfondir? Y a t-il un péché à éviter? Y a t-il une nouvelle découverte sur le Père, sur Jésus, sur l'Esprit Saint, sur le diable? etc.» Cherchez à découvrir ce que Dieu est en train de vous dire dans le passage que vous avez lu.
De la méditation passez à ce que j'appelle l'enregistrement. Prenez un cahier que vous gardez spécialement pour votre méditation et notez ce que le Seigneur vous a dit. Ecrivez toujours de façon personnelle. Ecrivez de manière personnelle et dans un esprit de dévotion pour que ce message soit vraiment pour votre âme.
A présent, priez. La prière a trois aspects dans votre méditation personnelle. Il ya d'abord l'ajustement. Prenez le message que le Seigneur vous a donné (le message que vous avez noté dans votre cahier de méditation) et répondez à Dieu dans la prière. C'est là un grand secret pour garder vos prières vivantes et fraiches. Priez jusqu'à ce que la volonté de Dieu devienne votre volonté en ce qui concerne le message particulier qu’il vous a donné.
Ensuite, adorez-le. Déversez votre âme devant Lui. Remerciez-Le. Pensez à Sa majesté, sa gloire, sa miséricorde, et délectez-vous en dans sa présence. Parlez comme un enfant à son père, comme un serviteur à son maître. Et écoutez comme un amant vis-à-vis de sa bien-aimée.
C'est seulement après cela que vous pouvez en venir à vos requêtes. Présentez des requêtes, non seulement pour vous, mais aussi pour les autres. Intercédez pour les autres.
Après la prière, il ya encore deux choses très importantes qui, je le crois, sont essentielles à méditation personnelle. La première c’est le partage. Partagez le message de Dieu pour vous avec quelqu'un d’autre ce jour-là.
Vous appréciez ce que vous partagez. Vous retenez ce que vous partagez. La manne que le peuple de Dieu ramassait chaque jour devait être partagé et mangé. Quand elle était accumulée elle pourrissait et puait.
Bien plus important encore, obéissez. Relevez-vous et dites: «Seigneur Jésus, alors que je fais face à ce jour, je te demande par la puissance de ton Esprit qui habite en moi de me donner la grâce de traduire en actes ce que tu m'as dit de faire ce matin.» Ensuite, sortez et obéissez.
Le meilleur que Dieu puisse vous offrir est étroitement lié à ce rendez-vous quotidien avec lui. Le baromètre de votre vie chrétienne peut être observé par l'attention que vous donnez à votre méditation tous les jours.
Vous ne pouvez pas me dire que vous avez abandonné votre vie à Dieu, que Jésus-Christ est le Seigneur de votre vie, ou que vous connaissez la plénitude de l'Esprit Saint, tant que vous n’avez pris votre manne le Matin.
4ème Partie: Plans De Predication
John 13:12-17/ Le dialogue de Jésus avec ses disciples
Titre: Le vrai service (suite - voir l’édition du printemps 2014 pour les points 1 et 2)
Point n° 3: Nous devons imiter le vrai service (12-17)
1. En nous souvenant que le Seigneur est notre Maître (12-13, 16)
2. En faisant les uns pour les autres ce que Jésus a fait pour nous (14-15)
3. En mettant en pratique ce que nous prêchons (17)
1 Adapté de “L’exégèse” par Sinclair B. Ferguson, dans Le Prédicateur et la Prédication: raviver l’Art au 20ème siècle, Samuel T. Logan, Jr., ed., (Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1986), 197, cité dans Prédication sous l’Onction, 91-92.
Related Topics: Pastors
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
“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.
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
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
Ubusonga Mu By’ukuri Kw’imana
KUGWIZA UBUGINGO MU IVUGABUTUMWA NO GUHINDURA ABANTU ABIGISHWA
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 UrufatiroRelated Media
4. Why We Should Avoid Selfish Comparison (1 Corinthians 3:1-23)Related Media
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 WokovuRelated Media
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)Related Media
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.
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.
- 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.)
- Many would argue that to say that Jesus is the only way to God is intolerant and arrogant. How would you answer them?
- 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?
- 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
Lesson 67: Why You Should Hate Your Life (John 12:24-26)Related Media
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.
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.”
- 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?
- Does hating your life in this world mean that it’s wrong to have fun and enjoy life? Support your answer from Scripture.
- What are some practical ways that you can serve your family (or roommates if you’re not living at home)?
- 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