Welcome to Delight in Grace, author and finisher of our faith. What a joy to know that He carries out the work from start to finish. As we entrust ourselves to the Savior, He does a mighty and beautiful work in His children, one that could only be accomplished by our mighty trailblazer. Let's listen to this message titled, Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus, the Finisher. This rescues us from comparing ourselves to each other.
Now that's a very human thing to do, isn't it? That we compare ourselves to each other. It's natural for you to compare yourselves to other people in terms of performance, in terms of ability, in terms of maybe even spiritual maturity, which is a very foolish thing to do. But the fact that Jesus perfectly satisfied the Father's requirement rescues us from comparing ourselves to each other, which is again a tactic that the adversary wants us to do every day, is to compare ourselves to each other.
Max Lucado gives this good illustration in his book, Traveling Light. He writes this, he says, all of us occasionally do what is right. If you predominantly do what is right, but does any of us always do what is right? According to Paul, we don't. There is none righteous, no, not one. Some may beg to differ.
I'm not perfect, Max, but I'm better than most folks. And that's a system of the religion of the world, isn't it? But you know what? There's Christians that think that way, too.
They think they're better. I've led a good life. I don't break the rules. I don't break hearts. I help people. I like people.
Compared to others, I think I could say I'm a righteous person. I used to try that on my mother. She'd tell me that my room wasn't clean, and I'd ask her to go with me to my brother's room. He was always messier than mine. See, my room is clean. Just look at his.
It never worked. She'd walk me down the hall to her room. When it came to tidy rooms, my mom was righteous. Her closet was just right. Her bed was just right. Her bathroom was just right.
Compared to hers, my room was, well, just wrong. She would show me her room and say, this is what I mean by clean. God does the same. He points to Himself. He points to His Son and says, this is what I mean by righteousness. You see, folks, that's the profundity of grace. It's not that I am more righteous than somebody else. It's the fact that God in His grace has credited me with the righteousness of Jesus Christ. It's not about me trying to be better or being better than somebody else, because Christ is the finisher of our faith. He's done the work necessary. So not only is He the ideal standard, He has satisfied all the requirements. There's a third way that He is a perfecter of our faith, and that is that He is perfect in reproducing the original.
He's the perfecter of our faith in that He is in the business of reproducing the original, and He is the original, the One who perfectly did the will of His Father, and that is what He wants to accomplish in you and me. Benjamin Franklin was notorious for his journaling, and in his autobiography, he wrote this. I conceived the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection. I wished to live without committing any fault at any time.
I would conquer all that, either natural inclinations, customs, or a company might lead me into. As I knew or thought I knew what was right or wrong, I did not see why I might not always do the one and avoid the other. But I soon found that I had undertaken a task of more difficulty than I had imagined. While my care was employed in guarding against one fault, I was often surprised by another. Habit took the advantage of intention. Inclination was sometimes too strong for reason. I concluded at length that the mere speculative conviction that it was our interest to be completely virtuous was not sufficient to prevent our slipping.
Now, he writes kind of in a way that we don't normally read today. Let me paraphrase to you what Benjamin Franklin concluded, even from his own efforts. It doesn't work just to try harder to be better. Whether that trying harder to be better is following rules, even if they are the rules set forth in Scripture or the commands set forth in Scripture, if you are simply trying harder to be better and your approach to the Scripture is, the Bible says, do this, do this, do this, do this, therefore I'm going to do this, do this, do this, do this, and if that's my approach, it doesn't work. Jesus didn't give his life for you just so you could follow a set of rules, even if they're biblical rules. Jesus laid down his life for you so that you could be reconciled to God and be in right relationship with Him.
It's that relationship that transforms you. It's not following the rules. Folks, think about that. You see, he's in the process of reproducing the original and that reproduction comes through relationship. It doesn't come through a checklist of rules, even if they are solid biblical rules.
Do you see the difference? Because the Bible says exactly the same thing in the New Testament. Colossians chapter 2 verse 23, there are many religious people. Remember what Jesus said in Matthew? He says, many will come to me in that day, Lord, look at all the stuff we did for you, and he's going to say what? I never knew you.
What is that? We have no relationship. Yes, you are doing all the things you're supposed to do, but we have no relationship.
I don't know you. Folks, don't let that be said of you. Jesus is not the finisher of our faith just so you could keep a list of rules and commands. He's the finisher of our faith so that you can be reconciled to God, and Paul makes that very clear in Colossians chapter 2. This whole morality issue, it's not about morality because he says self-made religion, asceticism, and severity to the body are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. Keeping the rules doesn't transform a person. It is your passionate pursuit of the person of God that transforms you.
It's not keeping the rules, and you've been reconciled for that. And this way, Jesus is the perfecter of our faith, the finisher of our faith, in that he reproduces the original. He does so in the context of relationship. He is the one who makes possible the successful completion of our perfection. He makes it possible.
C.S. Lewis said, the command, be ye perfect, is not idealistic gas, nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey the command.
There's the key. He's the finisher of our faith because he is in the process of making us creatures that can obey the command. As Paul says to the Philippians, that the work that Christ has begun, he will complete it until the end. The point of this is just saying this, Christ is in the business of reproducing the original. Jesus said, I am the way, so follow me. Follow me as disciples, as committed followers of the master. I'm not asking you today if you're following the rules. I'm not asking you today if you're doing all the stuff a Christian is supposed to be doing. I'm asking you today, are you passionately in pursuit of Jesus Christ, the person, not a concept, the person? Are you in pursuit of him? Are you following him? Are you a student of Jesus Christ and are you following him? John says in 1 John chapter 2 and verse 28, he says, and now little children, he's the aged apostle, he's very old now and he's writing to believers. Many of them he'd probably led to the Lord himself and he says, and now little children abide in him that when he appears we may have confidence and not be ashamed before him at his coming.
What is that? Abide in him. He didn't say keep all the rules. He said abide in him.
That is a relational term. It is a pursuit of the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, I am the way, so follow me, walk with me because we know as he said that we are predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. Listen, you're not going to be conformed by just simply keeping the rules. You will be conformed by following him, by pursuing him, by studying him, by walking with him.
That's what will transform you and that will make you into a being that can keep the command to be perfect. You see, in that way Christ is the finisher of our faith. He reproduces the original. He's the ideal standard and he has satisfactorily met all the requirements of God's righteous standard and he reproduces the original.
See, this is the blessing of the incarnation that we celebrate at this time of year. God has a very high standard but here's the point. God did not just verbalize his standard.
He didn't just verbalize his expectation. He gave you and me a man to follow. So entrust yourself to him.
Entrust yourself to him in faith and pursue him. Therein, loved ones, is your transformation. That is the message of the writer of Hebrews, that we look to Jesus, the author and the finisher, the perfecter of our faith. We're so glad you've joined us for Delight in Grace, the teaching ministry of Rich Powell, pastor of Grace Bible Church in Winston-Salem. You can hear this message and others anytime by visiting our website, www.delightingrace.com. You can also check out Pastor Rich's book, Seven Words That Can Change Your Life, where he unpacks from God's Word the very purpose for which you were designed. Seven Words That Can Change Your Life is available wherever books are sold. As always, tune in to Delight in Grace weekdays at 10 a.m.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-08 12:12:13 / 2023-12-08 12:16:48 / 5