Monday, 29 October 2018

SHINING POSSIBILITIES OF THE GOSPEL - MATTHEW LING

"For he has rescued us from all that is really evil and called us to a life of holiness—not because of any of our achievements but for his own purpose. Before time began he planned to give us in Christ the grace to achieve this purpose, but it is only since our Saviour Jesus Christ has been revealed that the method has become apparent. For Christ has completely abolished death, and has now, through the Gospel, opened to us men the shining possibilities of the life that is eternal."  
(2 Timothy 1: 9-10  J B Phillips)

Paul wrote this letter to Timothy towards the end of his life.  He was leaving an inheritance for posterity - what was most important that they remembered after he had gone.  In this translation it is the 'shining possibilities' of a life lived in Christ. 

Some characteristics of this life:


  • Our salvation is not just about us, it is for God's own purpose.  The story didn't start with us, in fact we arrived in the middle of God's plan which was already underway.  Because Jesus lives in you every day you can be a part of God's plan.  Daily living in the anointing of the Holy Spirit and saved to play a part in his eternal purposes.  Start each day with a question to God.  'Show me how I can be a part of what you are doing today?'   Psalm 110:3 'When you go to war, your people will serve you willingly.'  Wherever you are at work today Jesus I want to be part of it.
  • For us the notion of 'before time began' is a difficult one but God's story is eternal.  Before anything was created God had purposed what he was going to do.  We are part of a bigger story than the world's story.  The Kingdom of God is the biggest story.  Isaiah 11:9 'Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, for as the waters fill the sea, so the earth will be filled with people who know the Lord.'  God is transforming the world through us and the earth will be filled with people who have come to know him.  Remember the parable where the man given one talent buried it in case he lost it and was rebuked? We need to work the talents God has given us to change the world around us.
  • God gives us grace in Christ Jesus.  Just like Israel had the promises of God fulfilled in the 'Promised Land' for us living in Christ is the same.  As we abide in Christ we find ourselves in the place where God fulfills his promises.  Ephesians 2:9-10  'Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.  For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.' When we accept Jesus as Lord we take our pre-prepared place in the plans of God.
  • Whatever we achieve that is worthwhile is achieved by God's grace.  We need to learn to operate from a place of rest  and not striving to do things in our own strength.  If we are getting tired it's worth asking God to show us what we are doing that we shouldn't be doing.  Anything that is of eternal value will be from God.  When the call came that Lazarus was ill, Jesus listened and was obedient to God by waiting several days.  He could have dashed to be there quickly and heal his friend.  But instead he submitted to the will of the Father with a confidence that the end result would bring glory to God. Lazarus was raised from the dead and it was shown that Jesus had authority over life and death.  This life is one lived in intimacy with the Holy Spirit submitting every decision to God.   I'm reminded of a line in the song 'I hear the sound of rustling in the leaves of the trees' which goes 'the prompting of the Spirit is our word of command'. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2rSway6Cgc
  • Christ has completely abolished death. Abolish means ' to render ineffective with the expectation that it will cease to exist.'  John 1:4  'The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.'  1 Corinthians 15:45  The Scriptures tell us, “The first man, Adam, became a living person.” But the last Adam—that is, Christ—is a life-giving Spirit.  In the natural we will all eventually die but Jesus became a life-giving Spirit.      1 Corinthians 15:26  And the last enemy to be destroyed is death.  If this is true and death the last enemy has been defeated then all the other works of the enemy are fair game. Jesus healed people who eventually died but the Kingdom is bigger than any one life time.
  • The Gospel is not just a message that we preach.  Through the Gospel a way is opened up in the hearts of men for God to enter and transform lives.  
  • Shining possibilities of the Gospel   With God there are no limits, no difficult situations, no impossibilities.  If we put Jesus first, and walk in obedience to him then we become a beacon to the world around us.  We demonstrate the Kingdom of God by the way we live, how we treat others, how we speak.  We will shine out the reality of our eternal existence.  The glory of God displayed in earthly vessels.