Introduction to “Being Poured out for God’s Glory”
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me. (Philippians 2:12-18)
Getting cancer was one of the hardest things I’ve ever faced. Being told that it was back after only eight months of remission was even harder. I thought that I would have been more prepared, but I found that I was even more scared and less ready. I found that instead of submitting to God’s sovereign will that I doubted him. I once again found myself questioning him and saying that I did not deserve this. I found myself saying that I had endured enough and had earned a reward for my struggles.
I believe that this is human nature at work within us. We almost instantly think in any and every situation that not only does God owe us something, but also that he has no right to put us through any kind of suffering. That when we face pain or hardships that we deserve better and that God is being unjust. We somehow think that we innately deserve to have a perfect life filled with only good things and never anything that causes us pain. We often want to point out what we have done for God or what we have done for the church, but it is not what we have done but what God has allowed us to do. It is a gift and a blessing to be able to serve and suffer for others.
We believe this because we believe that God owes us something for what we have done for him. Our sinful nature wants to tell us that we have done good, earned our salvation, and more. The Bible tells us a different story though. “For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7).
Everything that we have and everything that we are is a gift from God. James 1:17 tells us, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” We find that the greatest gift he has given us is the gospel. Paul tells us to hold fast to the word of life. Word refers to Jesus (John 1:1,14), the “word of the cross” (1 Corinthians 1:18), and the “word of the truth, the gospel” (Colossians 1:5). The word is the gospel of Jesus Christ dying on the cross for our sins. The gospel is God’s pursuit of his glorification through sending his son to atone for our sins because of the great love he has for us.
The gospel is revealed to us through his Holy Scriptures. One cannot preach the gospel without preaching the Bible, and one cannot read the Bible without reading the Gospel. There is no way that we can encourage or be of any help to anyone without the Bible. It is our source of strength, and without it we would be nothing. We must search and dwell on the scriptures night and day (Psalm 1:2) to grow in the knowledge of God (Colossians 1:9-10). It allows us to hear Christ (Romans 10:17).
Our lives should revolve around the glory of God, the gospel of Christ, and the joy of the Spirit. This may seem to leave out the hope, grace, and love of and in God, but the gospel is all of those things. The gospel is what should be the center of our lives and of our very beings. We should reflect upon it as we wake up in the morning and as we go to bed at night. We should thank God for it as we receive blessing after blessing. We should even worship because of it through suffering. The gospel radically redefines what it means to live and what it means to die. The gospel can solve all our problems because it solved the greatest problem of all. It can heal all wounds and forgive all sins, because it took on the greatest harm and bore all our sin. The greatest solution to the problems of our churches today is not playing the right type of music or having a new building with the most advanced lighting and sound or even finding the right leaders, but the biggest solution is the gospel. The gospel is not filling out a card or walking down an aisle but a way of life. Its something that should never be forgotten and always practiced. If our churches revolved around the gospel, we could comfort those suffering by telling them of the afflictions Christ bore for them. We would be able forgive others as God in Christ forgave us (Colossians 3:13). We have learned love from Jesus’ death, and through the gospel of that love, how to love others (1 John 3:16). We do not impact the world by becoming culturally relevant or conforming to it. Instead, we impact the world when our worship, singing, praise, giving, serving, preaching, working, living, dying is all governed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our lives and our churches need to be centered on and dictated by the gospel of Jesus Christ crucified for our sins for the glory of God.