WHAT GOD DID FOR US IN
JESUS' DEATH AND RESURRECTION
THE EXAMPLE OF
James 1:19-27 This you know, my beloved
brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear,
slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness
of God. Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility
receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of
the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the
word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he
has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he
was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not
having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he
does. If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but
deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the
sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to
keep oneself unstained by the world.
There was a time when some of us said, "If we don't do what Ma said, we will get a
beatin' for sure!" There was a time when some of us said, "If my parents ever find out I did
this, I will be grounded for life!" There was a time when some of us said, "When my
parents hear about this, they will lock me in my room and throw the key away!" That is the
forced obedience of the immature. The immature do not obey because they want to obey,
but because they are terrified of the consequences of not obeying.
Hopefully, there has come a time in your life that you obey because a love
relationship exists. Allow me to give you an example. If you have a good marriage, it is a
marriage with numerous incidents of obedience. In a good marriage, there is lots of
obedience. Every day the husband and the wife in that good marriage perform acts of
obedience out of love and respect, not because they are terrified of a belt, a willow switch,
being grounded, or being locked in a room. In a good marriage, the husband and the wife
frequently do things they may never talk about simply because the thing shows the
appreciation of affection for the spouse. Then in that marriage there are moments of
conscious sacrifice made in the loyalty of affection. Such acts have nothing to do with
punishment, but everything to do with love .
- Perhaps the greatest single act of obedience from a human
given by Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane
- Jesus had a relationship with the Father that you and I will never have with the
- He had a prayer life that makes any of ours look anemic.
- His ministry was filled with personal surrender to the Father.
- Never once did he defy his Father's instructions or will.
- Three times he asked the Father to let "this cup" pass from him.
- For multiple reasons, he did not wish to die then, in those circumstances, in
- May I suggest two of the reasons.
- He did not want the pain.
- He did not want the responsibility [for thousands of years God worked
toward that moment--God's success hinge on Jesus' reaction under
severe stress and pain].
- Yet, though Jesus did not want the agony before him, he surrendered.
- Paraphrased, "If Your objective can be achieved in any other way, let's go the
- "However, I surrender to what You want done and the way You want it done."
- Jesus' obedience in the face of his own death is incredible! He had an option to
do things as he wished, and he did not exercise his option--instead he
- In Jesus:
- We see the basic nature of obedience--surrender.
- We see the basic issue in obedience--surrender when there is another option
- We see the basic motivation for obedience--respectful love for a superior.
Nothing requires as much perspective as does obedience.
- We do not have to obey; we choose to obey.
- If obedience occurs, it occurs because of our choice.
- We do not have to do what God says; we choose to do as God instructs.
- Obedience is not always simple!
- Sometimes it is personally costly.
- Sometimes it is personally painful.
- What God asks of us is not always pleasant!
- The writer of Hebrews said this of Jesus' obedience in the Gethsemane situation:
Hebrews 5:7-10 In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers
and supplications with
loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because
of His piety. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He
suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source
of eternal salvation, being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of
- Note he knew God was able to save him from death [at great cost to us, but no
additional cost to Jesus].
- Note God heard him [I understand that to mean God the Father responded to
- Note God heard him because of his godly character.
- Note Jesus learned obedience through suffering.
- Note God used Jesus' suffering to make Jesus perfect.
- Note God used Jesus' suffering to make Jesus our high priest.
- Note God used Jesus' suffering to make Jesus the source of eternal salvation.
First, I wish to call your attention to the joys of obedience.
- The first joy is discovered in knowing there is something bigger than we are.
- I do not have to "play God" in any situation--I need to serve God, not play God.
- I do not have to decide what are right values--I just have to learn, apply, and
follow right values.
- By letting God be God in my life, I am released from some impossible
- I am not responsible for your choices, and you are not responsible for mine.
- I can love you, care about you, encourage you, help you, and share with you--but
your choices are yours and my choices are mine.
- All I am responsible for is my decisions.
- Your choices may break my heart, but your choices do not destroy my
relationship with God--I never have to answer to God for what you decide of
yourself to do.
- God knows why I do what I do.
- In Romans 14 these incredible statements are found among many incredible
Romans 14:4 Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his
own master he stands
or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
Romans 14:6 He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord,
and he who eats, does
so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not
eat, and gives thanks to God.
- Understanding the context of this statement is critical to grasping its meaning.
- It was written by Paul to Jewish and gentile Christians who had very different
ways of doing things.
- The Jewish Christians were returning to Rome, and the church had become
quite gentile in nature in their absence.
- The Jewish Christians who did things uniquely as Jews did them for
centuries [as far as multiple "hows" as well as "whats"--like in the foods they
did and did not eat].
- They thought many of the daily practices of the gentiles were ridiculous.
- So Jewish Christians observed some days [like the Sabbath] and rejected
some foods [like pork] that gentile Christians did not observe or reject.
- As a result, in Rome when the Jewish Christians returned, there was a big
confrontation in the community of Christians.
- Paul incredibly said to both sides, "Leave each other alone!"
- "You each are doing what you do for God's approval, not for each others'
- "God knows not only what you do, but why you do it."
- "God is as concerned about your motive as your act."
- "You serve God; you are not servants to each other."
- "You cannot make each other stand or fall before God--you do not have that
- "You are God's servants, not each others' servants."
- A lot of problems instantly would be solved in the church if Christians would stop
being self-appointed judges and start being God appointed encouragers.
Second, I want to call your attention to the fact that there are some horrible
consequences to misguided obedience.
- The objective of obedience has never been to secure human approval.
- The church should be God's kingdom, not "our" kingdom--what God wills is
always far more important than what we will.
- It is much easier to condemn than to nurture.
- Too often if "I" condemn, the action is much more about my comfort and control
than it is about your salvation.
- Too often condemnation is much more about control than it is the will of God.
- We all have flaws!
- You see mine!
- I see yours!
- Condemning your flaws does not hide my flaws!
- God sees both, and forgives!
- It is much, much easier to raise sacred cows than it is to kill sacred cows.
- Among the devout in the Hindu religion, cows are sacred, cannot be harmed,
and are free to roam any where at any time.
- Traditions that become marks of a movement are frequently called "sacred
- In a religious movement, it is easy to create a sacred cow.
- All it takes is time and consistent practice.
- In this way, the practice of a people becomes a directive from God.
- Consequently, a believer has and expresses faith in God if he or she follows
the traditional practice.
- The problem is that the practice is never regarded to be a tradition, but a
declaration of scripture.
- Thus to kill a sacred cow is to attack proper faith.
- So the matter cannot be discussed ever.
- Discussion quickly becomes emotional reaction instead of open
Rule of the thumb: if God specifically instructs something, do it. That is obedience. If it is
based on human reasoning instead of a specific instruction from God, it well may be a
matter of human tradition instead of a matter of revelation from God.
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 22 January 2006
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