Sunday, June 28, 2009: Taking the Treasure to Your World

Commissioning Service for Hannah Kelly

Taking the Treasure to Your World
2 Corinthians 3:16-4:15
Introduction– Many years ago in St. Louis, a lawyer visited a Christian to transact some business. Before the two parted, his client said to him, “I’ve often wanted to ask you a question, but I’ve been afraid to do so.” “What do you want to know?” asked the lawyer. The man replied, “I’ve wondered why you’re not a Christian.” The man hung his head, “I know enough about the Bible to realize that it says no drunkard can enter the kingdom of God; and you know my weakness!” “You’re avoiding my questions,” continued the believer. “Well, truthfully, I can’t recall anyone ever explaining how to become a Christian.” Picking up a Bible, the client read some passages showing that all are under condemnation, but that Christ came to save the lost by dying on the cross for their sins. “By receiving Him as your Substitute and Redeemer,” he said, “you can be forgiven. If you’re willing to receive Jesus, let’s pray together.” The lawyer agreed, and when it was his turn he exclaimed, “O Jesus, I am a slave to drink. One of your servants has shown me how to be saved. O God, forgive my sins and help me overcome the power of this terrible habit in my life.” Right there he was converted. That lawyer was C.I. Scofield, who later edited the reference Bible that bears his name.
God has given every follower of Christ the task of taking His Jesus-Treasure to the world.

I want you to notice the following 4 aspects of HOW God uses us to take His Treasure to the world:

1.  We are to tell others about Jesus honestly and simply. (2)

2 Cor. 4:2”” “We reject all shameful and underhanded methods.  We do not try to trick anyone, and we do not distort the word of God.  We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know that.” (NLT)

2 Cor. 2:17”” “You see, we are not like those hucksters””and there are many of them””who preach just to make money.  We preach God”™s message with sincerity and with Christ”™s authority.” (NLT)

We”™re NOT salespeople!
We tell people about Jesus while God watches!

2.  God uses us””just regular people””to make sure people understand that the Jesus-Treasure is all about God and His power, NOT us.  (7-12)

2 Cor. 4:7-12”” “If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness.  We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives.  That”™s to prevent anyone from confusing God”™s incomparable power with us.  As it is, there”™s not much chance of that.  You know for yourselves that we”™re not much to look at.  We”™ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we”™re not demoralized; we”™re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we”™ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn”™t left our side; we”™ve been thrown down, but we haven”™t broken.  What they did to Jesus, they do to us””trials and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us””he lives!  Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus”™ sake, which makes Jesus”™ life all the more evident in us.  While we”™re going through the worst, you”™re getting in on the best!” (The Message)

“unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives”””common, weak, everyday, fragile

“we”™re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do”””whether we”™re leaving the country for the first time to go to Guatemala, or whether we”™re talking to our lifelong friend that doesn”™t know Jesus, God knows what we don”™t!  And He”™ll handle it!

1 Corinthians 2:1-5”” “Dear brothers and sisters, when I first came to you I didn”™t use lofty words and brilliant ideas to tell you God”™s message.  For I decided to concentrate only on Jesus Christ and his death on the cross.  I came to you in weakness””timid and trembling.  And my message and my preaching were very plain.  I did not use wise and persuasive speeches, but the Holy Spirit was powerful among you.  I did this so that you might trust the power of God rather than human wisdom.”  (NLT)

Our effectiveness in taking God”™s Jesus-Treasure to our world is NOT about our togetherness/confidence in our witnessing ability
NOT about our skills
NOT about smoothness of speech
NOT about our ability to logically debate/persuade

Our effectiveness in taking God”™s Jesus-Treasure to our world IS about being available in our weakness!

The TREASURE””the truth of Jesus””is the key!

3.  We only have one thing to say to the world””Jesus:  Who is and what He”™s done! (5)

2 Cor. 4:5””“We don”™t go around preaching about ourselves; we preach Christ Jesus, the Lord.  All we say about ourselves is that we are your servants because of what Jesus has done for us.” (NLT)

1 Corinthians 1:17-20, 23-24”” “For Christ didn”™t send me to baptize, but to preach the Good News””and not with clever speeches and high-sounding ideas, for fear that the cross of Christ would lose its power.  I know very well how foolish the message of the cross sounds to those who are on the road to destruction.  But we who are being saved recognize this message as the very power of God.  As the Scriptures say, ”˜I will destroy human wisdom and discard their most brilliant ideas.”™  So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world”™s brilliant debaters?  God has made them all look foolish and has shown their wisdom to be useless nonsense . . . So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended, and the Gentiles say it”™s all nonsense.  But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the mighty power of God and the wonderful wisdom of God.” (NLT)

The Message of the Cross=
Foolishness to the Most of the World

But, our ONE Message””Who Jesus is and what He”™s done””HE IS the power of God and WILL change lives!

4.  God”™s power “turns the light on” in people”™s hearts as we take the Treasure to them. (6)

Romans 1:16”” “For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ.  It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes””Jews first and also Gentiles.” (NLT)

“power”””Gr. Means dynamite-power

2 Corinthians 4:6”” “For God, who said, ”˜Let there be light in the darkness,”™ has made us understand that this light is the brightness of the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.”  (NLT)

Piper:  “For faith to be real there must be a supernatural ”˜light”™ that God shines into the heart to show us that Christ is glorious and wonderful.  This happens as a work of the Holy Spirit of God through the preaching of the Gospel” (Godward Life 2, 95-96).

As we tell others the Message of Jesus, as we show them the Treasure, God”™s Spirit blasts through the hardness of their pride and sin and lets them see the holiness of God and their need for a Savior from their sins and the beauty and sufficiency of the Cross of Jesus Christ.  And God gives them the gifts of repentance from sin and faith in Jesus!

So, we DO have a part to play””by God”™s gracious design.  But it is ALWAYS a dependent role””we are always depending on GOD to do the work!

1 Corinthians 3:5-7”“ “Who is Apollos, and who is Paul, that we should be the cause of such quarrels?  Why, we”™re only servants.  Through us God caused you to believe.  Each of us did the work the Lord gave us.  My job was to plant the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God, not we, who made it grow.  The ones who do the planting or watering aren”™t important, but God is important because He is the One who makes the seed grow.”  (NLT)

Conclusion–Too many times we focus on our method of sharing Jesus.  Too many times we focus on ourselves as the messengers.  Embrace the awesome truth that taking the Treasure to our world is about simply getting the Message of the Cross out and then watching God work in spite of us and our methods!

We DO have to get the message out.
A survey done by sociologists Glock and Stark found that among evangelicals, over 1/2 of their close friends are likely to belong to the same congregation, whereas among liberal churchgoers, such as Presbyterians and Congregationalists, few or none of their close friends are likely to be members of their local church.
Rifkin and Howard, The Emerging Order, p. 115.
You and I need to change that!  We have to be friends with those who need Jesus if we”™re going to be able to take God”™s Treasure to them!

2 Corinthians 5:14-21””“Whatever we do, it is because Christ”™s love controls us.  Since we believe that Christ died for everyone, we also believe that we have died to the old life we used to live.  He died for everyone so that those who receive this new life will no longer live to please themselves.  Instead, they will live to please Christ, who died and was raised for them.  So we have stopped evaluating others by what the world thinks about them.  Once I mistakenly thought of Christ that way, as though he were merely a human being.  How differently I think about him now!  What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons.  They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone.  A new life has begun!  All this newness of life is from God, who brought us back to himself through what Christ did.  And God has given us the task of reconciling people to him.  For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people”™s sins against them.  This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell other.  We are Christ”™s ambassadors, and God is using us to speak to you.  We urge you, as though Christ himself were here pleading with you, ”˜Be reconciled to God!”™  For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”

The Times-Reporter of New Philadelphia, Ohio, reported in September, 1985 a celebration of a New Orleans municipal pool. The party around the pool was held to celebrate the first summer in memory without a drowning at the New Orleans city pool. In honor of the occasion, 200 people gathered, including 100 certified lifeguards. As the party was breaking up and the four lifeguards on duty began to clear the pool, they found a fully dressed body in the deep end. They tried to revive Jerome Moody, 31, but it was too late. He had drowned surrounded by lifeguards celebrating their successful season.
Times-Reporter, September 1985.
YOU have the Treasure that will rescue the world!  Take it to them, trusting God to open their hearts!

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