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“You Are Serving the Lord Christ”

July 29, 2011 Leave a comment

Summer soon will be over, and we will return to our normal schedules. The rest and relaxation of summer break (even if only a one- or two-week vacation) will give way once more to “the daily grind.” As with all things, the Bible gives us God’s word to bear upon this aspect of life. Through Paul in Colossians 3:23-24, the Holy Spirit says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”

This passage teaches that as we Christians work our “real-world” jobs (for kids and youth, this corresponds to school), we are actually “serving the Lord Christ.” He is our boss even more than our supervisor, manager, or teacher is! It is only sensible, then, to “work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” Furthermore, Paul teaches “that from the Lord [we] will receive the inheritance.” The inheritance to which Paul here refers is eternal life in heaven with God; as he writes earlier in Colossians, the Father “has qualified [us] to share in the inheritance of the saints in light,” which is to be moved “from the domain of darkness … to the kingdom of his beloved Son” (1:12-13).

In applying these texts from Colossians to our daily lives as believers, we ought to “work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance,” which is deliverance into God’s eternal kingdom, “as your reward.” Students, this means do your best in school. Do your homework faithfully and don’t cheat on tests. Use the intelligence that God has given you, and seek to increase your knowledge by paying attention in class and by studying your books diligently. Adults, this means to do your best at whatever work you do because all work is a calling from God, if you are a Christian.

Martin Luther understood this and had this to say on the matter: “A cobbler, a smith, a farmer, each has the work and office of his trade, and yet they are all alike consecrated priests and bishops, and every one by means of his own work or office must benefit and serve every other, that in this way many kinds of work may be done for the bodily and spiritual welfare of the community, even as all the members of the body serve one another.” So, Christian, whether at work in an office, factory, field, or classroom, work to the glory of God in Christ Jesus, for he will reward you in heaven—not because of the work you do on earth but because you are his child.

This post was originally written for the Calvary Baptist Church August 2011 Newsletter, which will be released this Sunday, July 31, 2011, prior to morning worship.

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Should Sermons Be “Relevant”?

July 8, 2011 Leave a comment

Is relevance good, a necessary evil, or altogether abominable? Based on the proliferation of sermons that are not based on what the Bible actually says, some preachers would say that relevance is altogether abominable. But relevance is not the problem; it is not inherently bad. Rather, relevance must be determined by the Bible. As Graeme Goldsworthy writes in his book, Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture: “Since it is the gospel that, by revelation, shows us the real nature of our human problem as well as God’s answer to it, relevance has to be assessed by the gospel” (61). Goldsworthy later concedes, “There is nothing wrong” with addressing commonly felt needs, but “unless the felt problem is then redefined by the gospel, we are in danger of reducing the Christian message to a pragmatic one of helping us feel better or make the world a better place to live in” (62). Some may take umbrage at Goldsworthy’s words, objecting, “Shouldn’t we want people to feel better? Shouldn’t we want the world to be a better place to live in?” The answer to these questions is yes, but as Goldsworthy notes, such goals must be worked toward under the greater and dominant goal of faithfully proclaiming the gospel.

Even those who object to Goldsworthy’s comments must admit that the gospel makes people feel better in an ultimate way; a saved person, by the gospel, knows that he or she is a child of God for all eternity! What can make a person feel better than the grace that God offers in Christ? Likewise, the gospel makes the world a much better place to live in, not by magically suddenly erasing all the world’s ills the moment a person is converted, but by giving the converted person hope in a renewed world that will come at the end of time. Unsaved people have no hope of ever making the world truly better; any solution for the “betterment” of the world apart from the gospel is actually hopeless; man-made solutions will only perish. In fact, the redemption of creation cannot happen until the end of time. As Paul writes in Romans 8:20-21, “For creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” Creation will be recreated as our bodies are raised immortal, at the return of Christ (1 Thess. 4:13-18).

So, from Goldsworthy’s analysis, in what way should sermons be relevant? Sermons should show people “the real nature of our human problem as well as God’s answer to it.” In short, a relevant sermon shows from Scripture that people need salvation and that this salvation is found only in the person and work of Christ Jesus our Lord. Should sermons be relevant? Yes. Sermons should be relevant by presenting the gospel and by showing how the gospel affects every aspects of a Christian’s life. Relevance is not achieved by preaching to felt needs; relevance is achieved by preaching the gospel to people and showing them from Scripture how the gospel answers their every need.

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