Christian, Don't Quit

Bible Book: 2 Corinthians  5 : 7-21
Subject: Commitment; Presistence; Dedication; Christian Living
Introduction

The Christian life is described in many ways in the Bible. Each description reveals that the believer needs a deep, abiding commitment in order to stand firm and true to God in this world. For example, the Christian life is compared to that of a runner in a race. Are any of you runners? I am. I ran races for many years, some races that were 13.1 miles long – known as half-marathon races. Let me tell you, running like that is not easy. It takes practice, preparation, persistence to do it well. The Christian life is compared to running a race.

Also, the Christian life is compared to a farmer. Farming is hard work. Farming is dirty work. Farming is costly work. The Christian life is compared to a farmer.

Again, the Christian life is compared to a soldier. Have any of you served in the military? So have I? I served in the Army from 1963 to 1966, including a tour in the jungles of Vietnam in 1965 and 1966. I can tell you without question that being a soldier is not easy work.

Now, why am I telling you all of this? Because I want you to be reminded that we need to be revived and strong in order to fulfill God’s calling in our lives. Paul was a good soldier - he fought a good fight. Paul was a runner - he finished the race. He kept the faith. He is writing in this passage to share the attitudes and actions needed to be solid for Christ. Paul was imprisoned, beaten, shipwrecked, stoned, berated, and suffered many other hardships. But, Paul never let up in his service for Christ. Paul was filled with the Spirit and had motivators in his life that kept him on focus and he is sharing those motivations in the passage before us today.

The very best Christian can become discouraged. Think of Elijah. He defeated the prophets of Baal, but then became so discouraged that he ran away and wished to die. The best of God’s servants can feel dejected and become disheartened. John the Baptist was said to be the greatest prophet born of woman, but when he sat in prison he became depressed and sent some of his disciples to ask Jesus if He was the Messiah or should he look for another. So, you can see that no believer is beyond the reach of discouragement.

In order for us to be faithful through all the challenges and hardships of life, we must be aware of who we are, whose we are, what we are here to do and where our destiny is located. In other words, we need to have God open the treasure chest of His love and be reminded the treasures that are ours.

Today we are going to see this in 2 Corinthians 5:7-21. Paul was writing to the church at Corinth. He was seeking to stir them up to greater service and holy worship. He was telling them, in essence, don’t quit. Keep on keeping on for Jesus’ sake! So, note with me three important truths which will help us experience a renewed enthusiasm for our Lord.

I. An Awareness – The Terror of the Lord

We have an awareness. In verse 11 Paul mentions an awareness of the terror of the Lord. God is God! He is not a glorified Santa Claus. He is God. We can trust Him because He is sovereign. When Moses met God at the burning bush, he took the shoes off his feet because he was on holy ground. When Isaiah saw God high and lifted up, he confessed his sin and surrendered to the ministry. When John saw Jesus on the Isle of Patmos, he fell as a dead man at his feet. Today, do we have that kind of respect for Almighty God? There are many today who claim to know God but they will take God’s name in vain all week long. Paul looked at God in awe and respect. There were three things in Paul’s life that caused him to have this respect and awesome fear of God.

A. Condition Of The Sinner (A Need)

Paul knew that lost people were on their way to hell. He said that we must persuade men because we know that the lost are on their way to an awful day of judgment. When I was student at Gardner Webb University many years ago an awesome thought hit me. All the students milling around that campus appeared to me to be in a long line moving toward a great pit. Every two seconds one of them would drop off the edge into the abyss below, and then the others would move forward. I realized that God was showing me that all people are marching toward a day of death and judgment, and if they are without Jesus they are lost!

Longfellow penned:

"Art is long and time is fleeting,

And our hearts though stout and brave,

Still like muffled drums are beating

Funeral dirges toward the grave!"

We must be faithful in our witness to the lost. Paul knew that and he was driven by this fact. If we truly realize the terrible fate awaiting those without Jesus, we will be driven to take the message of God's saving grace in Christ to them. We will think less of our circumstances and more about the peril of the lost. In this "Me Generation" few are driven by the lostness of our neighbors, co-workers, friends and relatives. Paul was propelled into action by this fact.

B. Carnality Of The Saint (A Danger)

The church at Corinth, to which Paul was writing, was very carnal. Paul knew that judgment began at the house of the Lord. He wrote First and Second Corinthians as letters to that carnal church to call them back to a faithful walk with Christ. Anyone involved in church leadership today is aware that we are losing our members to a secular mindset. Secularism has a name – in the Bible it is called being carnal. A carnal church cannot be blessed or be the blessing God meant for the church to be. When we know this and see it, we will be driven to be faithful servants for Christ.

Carnality is simply living one's life with a humanistic, non-spiritual world view. When God's people begin to think like the world, talk like the world and act like the world, they are living carnal lives. We cannot make a difference if we are not different! We need a new motivation among the people of God in this generation if we expect to run the race, fight the good fight and finish to hear a "well done" from our Lord.

C. Coming Of The Savior (A Hope)

Jesus is coming, and Paul points that out in our text. When He comes, all believers must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ. We will give an account for our lives as believers to Him based upon His judgment and not based upon what we think. We are to be faithful to the One who saved us so that we do not stand ashamed at His coming. Paul took this seriously and he wanted all believers to do so.

Certainly appearing before the Bema Seat Judgment will not be a placed of condemnation and separation from God. Heaven is the home of every redeemed person. But, no one who is truly saved wants to be unashamed when he or she stands before Christ. Paul could not allow the thought in his mind that he would appear before Christ only to see his works as a Christian deemed to be wood, hay and stubble. He was driven by a desire to honor His King and Redeemer.

We are called upon to be aware of the condition of the sinner, the carnality of the saint and the coming of the Savior so that we might be faithful in our witness, our work and our walk in this world. But, there is more in this passage.

II. An Appreciation - The Love of the Lord (14)

We are called upon in verse fourteen, to appreciate some important truths. You see, something must draw us on to faithfulness in our service for Christ. Living a faithful Christian life is not really about negatives, but about some positive things we must recall and remember.

What is the main focus of our appreciation? It is the love of Christ for us! Paul says that we are "compelled" by His love. The love of Jesus constrains us in service. We see His love for us in the way that He left heaven and came to this earth as a mere babe. We see His love in His teachings. We see His love in the way He touched people’s lives and healed many. We see His love in the awful death He endured to save us from our sin. I want you to note some ways that we can appreciate the Love of Christ for us – ways that Paul mentioned specifically.

A. Amazing Golgotha

Paul mentions to us that One died for all – Christ died for you and for me! At Golgotha, Calvary, Jesus died for us. Paul never got over that fact. Have you gotten over it? Does it still move you? This is a truth that we simply must appreciate.

A lady went to Europe on a vacation. Her husband, an attorney, was not able to travel with her so she went with a friend. While touring, she found a beautiful tapestry that she wanted to buy. The problem was that the tapestry cost $20,000.00 dollars. She wired her husband to ask if she could buy it. He wired back telling her adamantly that she should NOT buy the tapestry because it was much too expensive!

She arrived home, greeted her husband and thanked him for allowing her to buy the tapestry. He was shocked. He said, “I told you not to buy it.” She replied, “No, you did not! I have the wire here in my purse.” She pulled out the Western Union telegram. When they viewed it, the husband realized that the telegram operated had made a mistake. Instead of printing, ”No (stop), Price too high, (stop)” He had printed, “No Price Too High! (stop)”. The telegram left out the “stop” after the first word.

When Jesus was on that Cross at Calvary, he could have looked down across time, looked at your life and mine and said, “No! The price to redeem that person is too high.” He could have called angels to take Him down from the Cross. But, Jesus remained on that Cross, looked down at you and me, and said, “NO PRICE TOO HIGH!” He paid the price for us. What a Savior!

His amazing love should drive you to faithful service. When the way seems difficult for you, remember the cross. When the cost seems high to be faithful, remember the cross. When people mock your faith, remember the cross. When your faithfulness calls for strength that seems to great for you to give, remember the cross. He did not quit on you - you and I must not quit on Him!!! Appreciate the cross and you can be faithful to the end.

B. Amazing Grave

He was raised from the dead. I don’t just serve for a Savior; I serve with a risen Savior. He said, I will never leave you nor forsake you. He is alive! He is my “Friend Closer Than A Brother.” His presence in my life should drive me and motivate me to a consistent Christian life.

The songwriter penned,

"I serve a risen Savior, He’s in the world today,

I know that He is living, whatever men may say.

I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer,

And just time I need Him He’s always near.

He lives, He lives!

You asked me how I know He lives,

He lives within my heart!"

Dear Christian, you are not just serving the Lord, you are walking with the Lord. We don't go to a grave to celebrate our Lord, we look beyond to the empty tomb. He walked out so that we can walk on! Don't quit! He is with you and will not leave you. When the way is hard, reach for His nail-scarred hand. He is the light that casts the shadow in the valley of the shadow of death.

C. Amazing Grace

In Verse 17 we see the phrase “in Christ”. This is one of the most important phrases in all of the New Testament. In Ephesians 2 Paul mentions it in direct relationship to Christ. Look at Ephesians 2:8-10. We don’t just work for Jesus, we don’t just walk with Jesus, we are living in Jesus! Grace is sufficient! Jesus told Paul that he would not remove the thorn in his life but that He would give Him grace sufficient to deal with. God’s grace motivates us.

If I can see the place where He died for me, the amazing tomb He walked out of for me and the amazing grace he gives to me, I can walk in in dedication to the last inch of the last mile. Paul was motivated by these truths and he wrote them to us to motive us. But, that is not all. He goes even further in his appeal to us to never quit.

III. An Appointment - The Call of the Lord

Paul goes on to remind us of our appointment in Christ. We are not just trying to serve Him, the King of glory has appointed us to serve Him. That is the point Paul makes in this section of our text.

A. Appointed to Reconciliation

Think about the parable of the Prodigal Son. I want you to use your imagination with me for a moment. We don't have a record of the full details of all that happened to the prodigal but join me in a possibility. Just imagine that a man came along and talked with the wayward boy when he was in the pig sty. I can hear the man prompting the boy to go home to his father. No matter the excuses, the man continued to encourage the boy to get out of that pig sty and go back to his father. Now imagine at last that the man convinced the boy to go home because it would be far better than slopping pigs. That is not part of the story, but just imagine that it happened. The boy goes home and the Father runs out to meets him. Jesus told this story to reveal to us that His mission was and is to reconcile sinners to God. He wants us to be in harmony with God’s purpose for our lives. We are like my imaginary man in this story. We are to find people and urge them to go to God. We are called to reconcile people to God. What greater calling can one have.

We are called to be part of that process. We are talking to people everyday who are living in pig sties of this world. They are wallowing in the mud of life. They need to know that they can come home to the Lord. We are called to be part of that reconciliation process. To Paul, that calling was an incredible motivator to his faithfulness and it should stimulate us to serve faithfully as well.

Some of the people in the pig sty are living in high rise apartments with a chauffeur to drive them around. It doesn't look like a pig sty, but living anywhere away from God is wallowing in the mire of this world. Some of those we seek to reconcile to God are living in a drug induced fantasy. Whether it is materialism, paganism, sexism, or any "ism" that ought to be a "was-im", we have been appointed by God to call them to reconciliation through Christ.

B. Appointed in Representation

You and I are God’s representatives. We are ambassadors for Christ. Think about Moses when he appeared before the Pharaoh. He said, “Let my people go.” Notice he used the word, “my" when he spoke of God's people. Aaron was with him with he appeared before the Pharaoh. I can just imagine Aaron listening to and watching Moses. Aaron could have wondered why Moses did not say, “Let God’s people go!” You see, Moses was God’s representative. He was an ambassador for the Lord. He looked like Moses, but he sounded like God! Wow! You and I have been called to stand up for the Lord and be His ambassador. We must never take that for granted.

You see, we have been appointed by the God of heaven to reconcile people to God and to represent God on this earth. No higher calling exists that this. Paul saw this as a means of motivating him to faithfulness. He was appointed and he didn't want to let down the One who appointed Him.

Conclusion

How motivated are you in your service for Jesus? It is easy to become discouraged. It is even easier to just take our Christian life for granted. The reason Paul was such a great servant of Christ is because he was aware of some things that we often forget. He appreciated some things we take for granted. He was thrilled to be appointed to represent the Lord while we simply try to do our best. We will never reach the generation in which we live, unless we renew our commitment and become excited about the One we serve.

Yes, we should renew our commitment to our Lord. We should do it because of our Awareness, because of our Appreciation, because of our Appointment. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!

Let us draw near to Him with confession of sin. Let us call upon Him to empower us with the infilling of His Spirit. Let us ask Him for real revival in our lives. Let us be revived in our motivation to serve the Lord with gladness!