Saturday, May 03, 2008
How The Leopard Changed His Spots
2 Corinthians 5:14-18 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. 16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. 17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
Rolf Harris was interviewed in 2005 on Andrew Denton’s Enough Rope.
The interview was described by Andrew Denton as the most moving interview he had conducted. As the interview came to its climax, Rolf Harris revealed an event that had led to his regrets about living a self centred life. His daughter had said to him after he stopped to sign autographs for two young boys, “You care more about people you have never met, than mum or me”
I realised it was “me, me, me, me, me!” Andrew Denton asked “have you changed?”
Rolf Harris replied, “I have tried, but my wife would probably say, ‘not enough!’ Can the leopard change its spots?” Strangely, there is an answer to Rolf Harris’ self-centred life.
What was Paul’s goal in life? We don’t have to wonder, because he stated it in verse 9 when he wrote, “So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.” I believe the best answer to this question is simply: To please the Lord. The appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives...we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.” (1 Thessalonians 2:3-4)
Sometimes people do the right thing but with the wrong motive. Did you hear about the two women talking? One of them was showing off her engagement ring and talking about her upcoming marriage. Her friend asked her, “Do you really love him?” The engaged girl said, “Oh, I worship the very ground his daddy discovered oil on!”
1) A good motive: The reward of Heaven For the Apostle Paul, heaven wasn’t just a future destination, it was a present motivation. In verse 10 we read: “For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ (bema), that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”
(2) A better motive: The fear of the Lord The Bible says in verse 11, “Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men.” Like Paul, I’m continually trying to persuade people to turn from their sins and place their faith in Jesus Christ. Why do I do it? One reason is because I know what it is to fear the Lord. You need to know what it is to fear the Lord because the Bible says in Psalm 111:10 that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Not only that, Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” When Isaiah saw the glory of the Lord and heard the angels calling back and forth, “Holy, holy, holy,” he fell on his face and said, “Woe is me, I’m as good as dead.” But then God said, “Who can I send to deliver my message?” Isaiah was like a first grader who knows the answer to the teacher’s question, he was frantically waving his hand saying, “Send me! Send me!” That’s why we persuade men, women, boys and girls to turn to Jesus, because we know what it is to fear the Lord. That’s a powerful motivation to please God, but as good as it is, I think there is a better motivation.
(3) The best motive: The love of Christ
2 Corinthians 5:13, “If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ’s love compels us...” The word translated “compels” means to “drive, to motivate.” It’s the word sunecho, from which our word “echo” is derived. Everywhere Paul turned he was confronted with this echoing thought which continually reverberated in his heart and mind: “the love of Christ, the love of Christ, the love of Christ.” “We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) Why do we serve the
Lord so diligently and faithfully? It’s not to earn salvation, but because we love the One who first loved us. I often quote a little poem that says, “I cannot work my soul to save; that work my Lord has done; but I will work like any slave; for the love of God’s dear Son!” So, what’s love got to do with it? Everything! Love should be the primary motive for wanting to please God. In John 14:23 Jesus said, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”
1. You Can Be Constrained By The Love Of Christ. 14
Sunecho.. Pressure Producing Action.
Paul has been writing of the judgment seat of Christ and of his zeal in persuading men and women to get ready to meet God. Nothing is allowed to deflect him by a hair's breadth from that message, and in the remainder of this chapter he proceeds to sum up succinctly and completely his message. The teachings found within this section are the very touchstone and the heart of the Christian faith. The sentences are crisp, and there is even a certain detachment (so B.B.Warfield points out) about them. Notice how Paul introduces this theme. He doesn't jump in and say something like 'it's all because of the death of Jesus,' but rather, he says, "we are convinced" about certain things. "We have come to a certain judgment about something," he is saying. These convictions had not been recently acquired by the apostle, rather they were something he had embraced for many years. They have kept him going; they have been the focus of his choices and activities for about three decades. They have been the energy of his life and behaviour. They have been the single constraining influence for his whole life, and this is how he begins: "Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died." mighty truths, simply stated, well-weighed and compacted, the very core of the gospel, a divine message which the apostle had not received from men but from the Son of God himself.
There Is An Intensity and an Immensity in The Love Of Christ
An Intensity of love
He saw me ruined by the fall, Yet loved me, notwithstanding all;
He saved me from my lost estate - His lovingkindness, O, how great.
The overpowering love of Christ for us, manifested when he gave his life for us on Golgotha, touches us very deeply. I deserved death. I could not pay the price of my sin, but he who was sinless and holy did pay every penny and cleared my debt. He did it only because he loved me.
Was it the nails, O Saviour, That bound Thee to the tree?
Nay, 'twas Thine everlasting love, Thy love for me, for me.
Isaac Watts realised that as a consequence of this, "My richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride." More than that, he wrote, "Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all."
Robert Murray M'Cheyne in his sermon on this text asks aloud what could be the explanation of this man? Wouldn't we long to hear from Paul's own lips the secret of his strength? We'd say with a twinkle in our eye, "Whatever he's taking I'll have some of that!" "What draws him on through all discouragements; indifferent alike to the world's laughter, and the fear of men...; careless alike of the sneer of the sceptical Athenian, or the frown of the luxurious Corinthian, or the rage of the narrow-minded Jew?" (Robert Murray M'Cheyne, "From the Preacher's Heart", "The Love of Christ" p.45).
When he refers to the love of Christ he is speaking of his love for us, not our love from him. It is unmistakably that in the famous words of Galatians 2:20, "He loved me and gave himself for me."
Because he loved you Jesus came into the world, born of the virgin Mary. He lived the righteous life you failed to live, but he did it in your place, and on the cross he made an atonement for your sins, paying the price of your redemption. Because he loved you he gave himself for you, tasting death for you, and on the third day rising from the dead to be your Shepherd King. Now ascended to the right hand of God with all authority in heaven and earth he lives for you - still because he loves you. Then in his mercy, through all the plans of his providence, at some time in your life, he saved you by sending the regenerating Holy Ghost into your life and giving you a new birth. It was his love alone that made him do it. It was nothing in you that constrained him.
How different we are, we are able to forget Gethsemane, and we can forget Christ's agony, can't we? An awareness of such poor frailty is one reason the Lord Jesus instituted the ordinance of the Lord's Supper. "Do this in remembrance of me." In other words, "Do this so that you won't forget the fact that the Prince of life died that we might live."
Jesus loves me, He who died heaven's gate to open wide;
He will wash away my sin, let his little child come in.
Jesus loves me, loves me still, when I'm very weak and ill;
From His shining throne on high, watches with me where I lie.
Jesus loves me, He will stay close beside me all the way;
If I love him, when I die He will take me home on high.
Yes, Jesus loves me, Yes, Jesus loves me,
Yes, Jesus loves me, The Bible tells me so.
An Immensity Of Love
"One died for all," says Paul. What does this word 'for' mean? Linguistically it could mean for the sake of, for the benefit of others. It could also mean instead of, in the place of others.
The world's great problem is the sin of man. The great answer is the Substitute of God.
2. You Can Be Changed By The Love Of Christ. 14,15,16, 17
For Christ’s love compels us, since we have reached this conclusion: if One died for all, then all died. 15 And He died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the One who died for them and was raised.
Here is the death of self-centred living.
Augustine the great theologian of Hippo in north Africa had been an immoral man before he was converted, and then the great change took place. A year or two later he was walking through a town when one of his old girlfriends spotted him. "Augustine!" she cried after him. "Augustine! Augustine. It is I!" "But it is not I," he cried back and kept walking. The old Augustine had ceased to be.
In 1881, President James Garfield of the United Sates was shot. This was before the era of the X Ray and doctors could not agree on the location of the bullet. His personal physician, Dr Bliss said he was certain the bullet was in this spot; a specialist consultant they brought in for a second opinion, Dr Weiss, said no. Whilst the doctors argued, the patient died. A post mortem proved Dr Weiss right. Whereupon a Boston newspaper ran the headline: 'Where ignorance is Bliss, tis folly to be Weiss.' Surely we all believe that there is no area of human life where ignorance is bliss, but especially concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, who he was, what he taught, why he died, that he rose again, and his willingness to become our Saviour. This world has witnessed the Son of God. He is the brightness of God's glory and the express image of his person. Why, then, doesn't everyone believe in the Saviour?
Here Is The life of Christ Centred living
A Copernican revolution. I am no longer at the centre of my universe.
3. You Can Be Compelled By The Love Of Christ. 18
The 'all' for whom Christ died should no longer live for themselves.
John Newton in his sermon on this text has a striking description of his life: "Paul devoted himself to the service of his Lord and Saviour, and of the cause which he had opposed. His ardour was astonishing and exemplary. Unwearied by labour, undismayed by danger, unaffected by hardship and suffering, but supported and cheered by the presence of him whom he served, he preached the gospel in season and out of season. publicly and from house to house, in Judea, in Asia, in Greece, in Italy, and many other parts of the Roman empire. For this zeal in seeking to promote the good of others, of strangers, of enemies, at the expense of all that was dear to himself as a man, he found, as he expected, in almost every place which he visited, open oppositions, and secret conspiracies against his life: he was scourged by the Jews, beaten with rods by the Romans, and confined in prisons and chains. He was likewise the marked object of general contempt: the wise men of the times despised him as a babbler; he was regarded by many as the filth of the world, and the offscouring of all things; many said, 'Away with such a fellow from the earth, it is not fit that he should live.' (John Newton, "The Constraining Love of Christ," Works, Volume 6, p.497). Yet none of this prevented him persuading men and women to believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ.
Ginger beer plant.. and the explosion of the ginger beer bottles at Kiama.
My dad took one home. I forgot.
The newly painted kitchen was repainted in sugar water.
Pushed out through the narrow mouth of the bottle, it had force and impact.
This good news, forced out through your narrow mouth and life, can have force and impact on others. It’s gotta be in there first!
Strangely, there is an answer to Rolf Harris’ self-centred life.
Earlier Rolf Harris had spoken of the way that first hearing the song “Two little boys..” had moved him. In 1969, during a tour of Arnhem Land with his wife and daughter, Rolf briefly stayed with Ted Egan. Ted sung him this song. And Rolf said as he sang it he thought “oh now… how boring ..how dull, how effeminate…” until the last lines
Two Little Boys is a popular song written by Theodore Morse and Edward Madden. It was written in 1902 and it became a popular music hall song. The song would appear to have its origins in the fiction of the Victorian children's writer Juliana Horatia Ewing d. 1885 at age 44 wife of a major, whose book Jackanapes (1884) was a story about the eponymous hero and his friend Tom, who having ridden wooden horses as two little boys end up together on a Napoleonic battlefield. There Jackanapes rides to the rescue of the wounded and dismounted Tom. Jackanapes nobly replies to Tom's entreaties to save himself, "Leave you"? "To save my skin"? "No, Tom, not to save my soul". And unfortunately takes a fatal bullet in the process.
Two little boys had two little toys
Each had a wooden horse Gaily they played each summer's day
Warriors both of course One little chap then had a mishap
Broke off his horse's head Wept for his toy then cried with joy
As his young playmate said Did you think I would leave you crying
When there's room on my horse for two Climb up here Jack and don't be crying I can go just as fast with two When we grow up we'll both be soldiers And our horses will not be toys And I wonder if we'll remember
When we were two little boys
Long years had passed, war came so fast Bravely they marched away
Cannon roared loud, and in the mad crowd Wounded and dying lay
Up goes a shout, a horse dashes out Out from the ranks so blue
Gallops away to where Joe lay Then came a voice he knew
Did you think I would leave you dying When there's room on my horse for two Climb up here Joe, we'll soon be flying
I can go just as fast with two Did you say Joe I'm all a-tremble
Perhaps it's the battle's noise But I think it's that I remember
When we were two little boys Do you think I would leave you dying
There's room on my horse for two Climb up here Joe, we'll soon by flying
Back to the ranks so blue Can you feel Joe I'm all a tremble
Perhaps it's the battle's noise But I think it's that I remember When we were two little boys
1 Cor 9 woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Romans 9 that I have intense sorrow and continual anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from the • Messiah for the benefit of my brothers, 10:1 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God concerning them is for their salvation!
They say that once a piece of common clay Such fragrance breathed as from a garden blows,
“My secret is this” they heard it say, “I have been near the rose.”
And there are those that bear about with them The power with thoughts of Christ, men’s hearts to stir,
For having knelt to kiss His garment’s hem, Their garments smell of myrrh.
So grant I pray thee Lord, The fragrance of Thy life may dwell in me
That as I move from place to place, men’s hearts may turn to thee.