There are wonderful and very important tasks in this world: people who are bold, have initiative and create jobs; people who are socially engaged; politicians who use their power to help their country; people who fight against injustice, against oppression, corruption and violation of human rights. Others are active in research and medicine; and farmers, for many the most important work on earth because without food, no one can live. Every year, people who have excelled in some field receive the Nobel Prize.
Although these tasks are extremely important and necessary and have their place in the world—because they also are a gift of God that come from His grace—the readiness to spread the Word of God is the greatest. Blessed are those who let themselves be used with gifts and other works, as Paul says in Ephesians 3:8, “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.”
Each one can do it in some way. Johnny Cash sang in a song that was quoted in idea Spektrum, “I’m no prophet/ and I’m no pastor/ I’m no wise man that came from the East/ I would not tell you what is right and what is wrong/ I just sing my songs / but I can take you to a city where a man was crucified / I can tell you how he lived and I can tell you why he died/ I can help to proclaim the praise of this mighty King of kings/ Yeah, I do it with the songs that I sing.”
A survey proves that before a person is converted, he has heard the Gospel about 10 times. Perhaps your testimony is the third or the seventh time, but it is just as important as the last time when a person is truly converted.
Regarding this, three questions arise: 1. Are we aware of our Great Commission? 2. Do we take it seriously enough? 3. What will you invest in it?
Where Jesus Christ is the center of our lives, we are urged to confess Him.
In Luke 22:27, we meet the Lord Jesus as the servant, where He says, “For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? Is not he that sitteth at meat? But I am among you as he that serveth.”
Jesus is God, and yet He made Himself the servant of His creatures. He took the lowest place and gave His life for us. Michael Kotsch wrote of the Lord Jesus, “All the riches of the world were at His disposal, and yet He renounced them. He firmly resisted all attempts to corrupt Him. As Creator of the universe, He lived humbly as a servant of His creatures. Jesus Himself founded no political party or organization, and yet His ideas form the basis for countless orders, universities, research facilities and churches. He strictly refused to use force or to put pressure on someone, and yet He conquered the hearts of millions of people.”
One can rightly claim that if the whole world would follow the instructions and demands of Mohammed, murder, dictatorship, oppression and fear would rule the planet. If the whole world would follow the instructions and demands of Jesus Christ, however, peace and love would rule the world.
What about us? Do we serve one another, or “bite and devour one another” (Galatians 5:15)? We want to be close to the Bible, and yet are so infinitely far away from its demands. Love is still the greatest, however (1 Corinthians 13:13). Mercy is more than any sacrifice (Matthew 12:7). This is the first commandment, “By love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13). Paul wrote to the Romans, “I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil” (Romans 16:19).
Where Jesus is the center, we are ready to serve Him.
In Matthew 18:20, we meet the Lord Jesus as the present One, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
The question that arises here is if the Lord is not present when we are alone. Of course He is, for since the birth of the Church at Pentecost the Lord Jesus dwells in the hearts of believers through the presence of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 13:5; Colossians 1:27). Jesus’ statement in Matthew 18 is about the rebuking of a brother who has sinned. We should speak to him alone first. If he does not listen, we should speak to him with one or two brothers. This is the principle of Deuteronomy 19:15, “One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.” If the brother that sins does not listen, the church will be informed. In this case, the fellowship stands under the full authority of the Lord. Because He is in their midst, their judgment is valid.
Where Jesus is the center, we proceed Biblically.
In Luke 24:36, we see Jesus as the peacemaker, “And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.”
Jesus brought us peace, and therefore we are obliged to strive after this, “…Follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22). If we are following after something, then we are fully concentrated on it; we have the goal before our eyes inwardly and outwardly. We do not let ourselves get distracted, and pursue it until we have reached it.
We find a similar text in the letter to the Hebrews, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled” (Hebrews 12:14-15). Usually, we put the emphasis on holiness and forget peace, but this is mentioned first. Without peace toward everyone, there is no holiness; if I am being sanctified, then I am striving after peace. Both are interdependent, like a symbiosis.
Jesus is the holy One, and He brought us peace. No one should speak of holiness if they do not do everything for the sake of peace. The bitter consequence of neglecting these two things is that Jesus is not recognized, because He is not the center. Without peace and holiness, no one will see the Lord. This cannot refer to the eternity of Christians, because it says of this in 1 John 3:2-3, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”
What does the text in the letter to the Hebrews mean, though? First, with regard to the unredeemed. Jesus Christ is our peace. He is our holiness (1 Corinthians 1:30). Whoever does not have Him in his or her heart has no peace and no holiness. He or she is unredeemed and will not see God. Second, with regard to the redeemed, where the Church is not striving after peace and holiness, Jesus Christ will not be seen, i.e. recognized. How can we see Jesus if Christians are only quarreling?
Where Jesus is the center, there is peace. When you are not pursuing peace, He is not the center.
In John 19:18, we see the Lord Jesus as the One who is crucified with us, “Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.”
I would like to use this verse as a chance to point out that we are crucified with Christ. There are various wonderful Bible texts, and I want to begin by quoting one, Romans 6:6-8: “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.”
What a spiritual panorama this passage gives us. There are exactly seven things: 1) We know (assurance) that 2) our old nature is crucified with Him; 3) We are no longer subject to the reality of sin; 4) we no longer have to serve sin; 5) we are declared free from sin; 6) we are dead with Christ; and 7) we shall live with Him. This is the position in which God sees us, which is accomplished through Jesus Christ.
Why are we still so weak in the flesh? We lack the attitude of faith, “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:24-25).
Where Jesus is the center, we want to please Him.
And in Revelation 7:17, we meet Jesus as the center of heaven, “And the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”
Jesus Christ is the absolute center of heaven. He is the center point on the throne of God, one in nature with the Father. He will be the central point on the new earth and dwell in the midst of the people (Revelation 7:14-17; 21:3; 22:1-3). He is the center of spiritual history, the center of our future homeland, and therefore He should be the One who determines our lives.
In this regard, I would like to close with a word from C. H. Spurgeon, “The streets of gold will make little impression on us, and the sound of the harps of the angels will do little to make us rejoice, in comparison to the King in the center of the throne. It is He who will draw our eyes and thoughts to Himself, who will ignite our love and all our sanctified feelings, and bring a high measure of holy worship. We shall see Jesus!”
Midnigth Call - 02/2017