The title of this Sermon is Keeping the commands of Christ. But, I think a good subtitle might be learning to be a complete servant of Christ through life experiences.
Let me share this with you, it will get us into the right mindset for this lesson.
B-I-B-L-E, basic instructions before leaving Earth.
Let’s consider a couple of things, first and obviously, Christianity means being a disciple, or follower, student of Christ, and that infers that He (Christ) is the one we follow, who we are a student of, disciple of; and keeping His commands means He is the boss, the great Scottish preacher Peter Marshall referred to Him as the “chief”.
We do what He says for He is the teacher/ Leader. In Short, giving up our life, or dyeing to self, and picking up our own cross means being His servant, or slave, so let’s look at the Greek word for slave
Which is doulos and means:
- a slave, bondman, man of servile condition
- a slave, one who gives himself up to another’s will those whose service is used by Christ in extending and advancing his cause among men
- devoted to another to the disregard of one’s own interests; a servant, attendant
Meriam Webster Dictionary defines Disciple this way:
Someone who accepts and helps to spread the teachings of a famous person
- That statement comes with the assumption of spreading that teaching as taught, correctly, without making your own changes. Be a Servant
“Matthew 20:26–28Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. 27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” .
Matthew Henry commentary: That man who labours most diligently, and suffers most patiently, seeking to do good to his brethren, and to promote the salvation of souls, most resembles Christ, and will be most honoured by him to all eternity.
So how life’s experiences can be used to better understand this.
In an earthly sense, when we have a boss, when we follow the commands of another, we expect a reward for it, such as a paycheck.
We want that paycheck so we can sustain life, for ourselves and sometimes for others.
So why would it be any different when we follow the commands of Christ? We expect a reward at the end of the day, and in this case namely, Heaven.
What is another reason we have a boss? Or a manager, or leader? To show us the way, to give us instructions on how to do our job correctly.
For instance, I spent many years, in fact most of my working life, with AAMCO transmissions as a customer service manager. My main job was to work with customers. AAMCO taught me what to say, in fact it was a 5,000 word track that had to be followed by the exact word, they taught us what to say, to the letter, in each stage of our relationship with the customer, from the time we answered the phone, until the time we handed them their keys. Why? To maximize the amount of sales, to make sure the customer was not misled in anyway, and understood perfectly what their cost would be, and exactly what they were paying for.
Of course, the technicians had a different role, but they were also taught exactly how to proceed in their work when it came to the diagnostic aspect, and what to say if a customer should be involved.
We had extensive diagnostic forms that had to be completed in an exact manner, so there would be no confusion to what was wrong with the car or truck, what was required to put it back into proper working conditions, and if there were any extenuating problems, or options to the repairs.
And then of course we had quality control in place when it came to the actual repair. We even had what was referred to as AAMCO “cops”, that would come into the centers and make sure we were repairing cars to the standards set forth by AAMCO home office.
And, why did we do that? Why would we put up with such severe micromanagement?
Because the pay was very good, and provided us a means to support our families.
Most importantly, It helped us do our job as close to perfection as possible.
So how does this apply to being a Christian? Christ, through the scripture gives us detailed information on how to arrive in Heaven someday. We memorize the “track” which are bible verses, and even hand out bible tracks don’t we?
Something would happen at AAMCO occasionally. A Customer Service Manager would decide he knew a better way to deal with customers than the AAMCO track
And before long sales would start going down.
We have the same thing in our Christian walk. Christ, gave us the “track” to salvation. He refers to it as the narrow path. He gave us the words we needed to follow the track perfectly, yet some decide they know a better way, and what happens? they are found teaching a false gospel, misleading people to an eternity in a hell without reprieve.
And we have bible “cops” just as AAMCO had their “cops”, and who are those cops? Me and You, we are to study the scripture daily (Acts 17:11) to see if what I teach or others like me teach are the truth. And, honestly, if you think I am teaching something in error, I truly want you to point it out to me, and why you think I am in error, and if I find you are right, I will change my view and teaching, in fact I found two things I have been wrong about in just this last week, and in the future, when I speak concerning those things, those corrections will be in place.
Christ, being the “head” of the church, the leader, the “boss” if you will, gives us the instructions needed to make the right decisions, to do the right things, that will end in a successful journey.
In this physical life, we are talking about completing a project, maybe like an AAMCO rebuilder; building a transmission. Without instructions, it would be difficult to complete, at least correctly, and without a supervisor, it might be very difficult to understand the instructions, or how to follow them, and execute them properly.In the spiritual sense this is exactly what we have in Christianity.
- First, we have a goal: Heaven
- We have the blue print or the track for obtaining the goal: The Bible
- We have instructors: Preachers and teachers
- And we have the author: God
- And we have quality control in place: Us; studying God’s word; the Bible, to make sure the Preacher is teaching the Scripture properly.
Now let me put this in a more personal sense, I’m neither the dumbest nor the brightest guy you will ever meet. As everyone in this room, I have enough intelligence and talent to get me through the day, and for the most part through life, however you would be amazed at the mistakes I make, and have been making for 69 years.
When I was young, I had so much chatter going on in my brain, it was literally making me crazy, often I would use booze to slow it all down, a bad decision.
I still get lots of “ideas” maybe I should do this, or that, it’s like I am almost 70 years old and still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up.
And when I would change the AAMCO track because I had a “better” idea, things would get all confused, sales went down, the boss got mad at me, the techs got mad at me because it affected their income and job security as well.
But I found an answer, a solution to all this confusion… I quit making decisions on my own, and decided to just follow the track, and that is the same decision on my spiritual track, the narrow path, to heaven, to lay down my life and pick up my cross. And, what I mean by that, is I have two things I focus on in life now… paying the bills, and reading my blueprint or map to heaven, knowing the track, and sticking to it. It simplifies all other things.
Let’s, keep one thing straight here; there is nothing we can do to enter heaven, it is by grace we are saved, and not by our own work, but we do have work to do, God has given each and every one of us a purpose, an assignment and that is found in Matthew 28: 18-20.
Ephesians 2: 8-10 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
So heaven is the reward, but it is by no means a gimme, yes, it’s a free gift, maybe we should refer to it as a free opportunity to all who would accept and follow through,
Allow me to share a quote from C.S. Lewis from Mere Christianity:
“[To have Faith in Christ] means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.”
― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Keep My Commandments
“If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
Titus 1:10 For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision,(NKJV)
Titus 1:16 They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.(NKJV)
1 John 2:4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.(NKJV)
Revelation 21:8 says, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
As Christ says in
Matthew 7:13-15 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
Do you see the connection? We are to “follow the track” and not just follow it, but with the right heart, with diligent study, so we can be a pure, as perfect as possible.
In the past I have taught, or compared knowing the scripture to an FBI agent spotting phony money, the way they are taught to do this, is simply teaching them to know the real thing so well, they spot the phony immediately, and it is the same thing in our spiritual walk, if we teach a false doctrine, those who know the scripture will spot us immediately, and the same holds true for me, if I know it, teach it, practice it perfectly I will spot the phony/ false teacher and Christ tells us the same thing. Go to verse 15 of Matthew 7:
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.
We are warned of false prophets, but why? If all we had to do is believe, would it really make any difference whether the preacher was telling the truth or not, and he may be honest, repeating a false doctrine he had been taught.
We are told the way is difficult, and few actually find it, what difficulty is there in just saying I believe?
Sounded easy to me. But in truth it is not very easy, we must give up self, literally die to self, and that is difficult, giving up any worldly desires, dreams of wealth or power you might harbor, … but even more than that, you must give up all your personal ideas, convictions, hatreds, partialities, in other words you must come to Him with a childlike readiness to serve Him, to Learn of and about Him and His commands.
You must give it all up, pick up your cross and follow Christ, and picking up that cross is work, it’s difficult work, but on the other hand, it’s serving your Lord, it’s a work of love.
Allow me to quote C.S. Lewis once more….
― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
“Your real, new self (which is Christ’s and also yours, and yours just because it is His) will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him.
The principle runs through all life from top to bottom, Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favourite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end submit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eternal life.Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”
You Will Know Them by Their Fruits
Matthew 7:16-20New King James Version (NKJV)
16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
34 Jesus answered and said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; 36 nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.
in Luke 20:35 Jesus states . 35 But those who are counted worthy
So what does being counted worthy mean? What is that work, what must we do, once we have come to the realization Christ is exactly who He claimed to be, and we are serious about being His disciples.
- Choose the Narrow Way
“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it”(Matthew 7:13–14).
- Take My Yoke
“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light”(Matthew 11:28–30).
- Deny Yourself
“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?”(Luke 9:23–25).
Let’s wrap this up with a description of the goal: Heaven, and I think we can all agree it is worth following correctly, it is worth diligent study in order to know the commands, to know the pitfalls, it is worth accepting correction when we are wrong.
But, not just heaven, but eternity in Heaven, where there will be no more death, but continuous life forever, in a place we will want to be.
Matthew 6 and John 14 teaches us it is an actual place, we will have bodies, not just spirits floating around. It’s a place of great treasures, and prepared for those who seek it seriously, diligently. We are told in Matthew 25 that we will enter the joy of our master, and Luke 20 tells us we will be like angels, in fellowship with one another, and ultimately with God.
Matthew 6: 19“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.
John 14:1 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you 3 And 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. 4 And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
Let’s take a look at Revelation 21, and we will wrap up this lesson.
in Revelation 21 we are told there will be a new heaven and a new earth, There will be a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven, and that God will dwell there with us, that there will be no more tears, death, sorrow, nor crying, for all these former things will pass away, and it will be forever and ever. It tells us this place is made of beautiful stones, and the gates of the city will be made of pearl, and the streets will be made of Gold like transparent glass. There will no longer be night, but light all the time; coming from God, and Christ, and we will walk in that light, no longer wearing these filthy rags of sin we bear now.
Only those written in the book of life shall dwell there….
Let’s make sure we are written in the Book of Life, by accepting Christ as our savior, without argument, following the script He has provided, following it as perfectly as we can, searching it daily for errors of the teachers, and of ourselves making the necessary adjustments to our beliefs and our behavior daily as needed, let’s lay down our lives, give it all up for Christ, the Lamb of God, being faithful servants of our Lord Jesus Christ, and I will see you there….
Thank you for your time, and the lesson is yours.