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The Attraction of a Transformed Life, Part 1

Delight in Grace / Grace Bible Church / Rich Powell
The Truth Network Radio
April 24, 2024 10:00 am

The Attraction of a Transformed Life, Part 1

Delight in Grace / Grace Bible Church / Rich Powell

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April 24, 2024 10:00 am

The power of the gospel is evident in the transformed lives of those who surrender themselves to Jesus.

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Welcome to Delight in Grace, the teaching ministry of Rich Powell, pastor of Grace Bible Church in Winston-Salem. The power of the gospel is evident in the transformed lives of those who surrender themselves to Jesus. Ephesians 2-5 says that even when we were dead in our trespasses, God made us alive together with Christ. By grace you've been saved.

That is a dramatic change. In today's message, Pastor Rich talks about the glory of God manifested through changed lives. Our text comes from 2 Corinthians 3, 1-6.

Let's listen in. The title of the series is The Glory of the Gospel. The Glory of the Gospel from 2 Corinthians 2, 14 through the end of chapter 5. And our focus today is the first six verses of chapter 3.

Paul continues from chapter 2 on into chapter 3. He starts with the question, do we begin again to commend ourselves? And the question is that about credentials. Do I need to be showing my credentials to you, says the apostle? I formed this church.

I've taught you. Are you telling me that credentials are important? He says, that's not what I'm doing. I'm not laying out my credentials to you, because why he says this is what he says in 2-17. He says, we are not as many peddling the word of God, but as of sincerity as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ. Many people, and there were many speakers of the day, and as there are today, you know, if you go someplace, you have a speaker, you got a conference or something like that, and someone gets up to introduce the speaker, you go through this long list of credentials and experience of this is why you should listen to this person. And some were accusing the apostle Paul of saying that, that Paul was going through the long list of all of his credentials and saying, this is why you should listen to me.

So verse one is a reference to 2-17. Some were thinking Paul's being a little bit self-serving here, as if Paul were saying, I have the credentials. What I say is true.

Therefore, you ought to listen to me. And some would bring that the validity of the gospel into question here, thinking that Paul was being self-serving in what he was doing. And Paul said, that's not the case at all. And his answer, he had a question in 2-16.

Look at the end of 2-16 with me. He says, and who is sufficient for these things? The rhetorical question, the presumed answer to that was nobody is. No one is sufficient for these things. And so he answers that at the end of verse five, he says, our sufficiency is from God. Our sufficiency is from God. In other words, what the apostle is saying, we are instruments in God's hands. The gospel is God's doing. Redemption and reconciliation is God's doing.

We are but instruments in his hands. And so he was telling the Corinthian believers, you don't need to look for the credentials. The gospel of Christ is recommended by transformed lives. And that brings us then to the next point in the sermon, and that is that Paul is telling the Corinthian believers, he says this, your life recommends Christ.

As a Christian, your life recommends Christ. Verses two and three, you are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men. An epistle means a letter. Some people think an epistle is the wife of an apostle.

Not so. An epistle is just a word for letter. You are our letter of recommendation. Paul says he looks at the believers and their changed lives and he says, your life is the recommendation for the gospel of Christ. Verse three, clearly you are an epistle of Christ ministered to by us, written not with ink, but by the spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of flesh that is of the heart.

We'll get into an explanation of that in just a moment. But he is telling them your life recommends Christ. You remember in Acts chapter 11, verse 26, where it speaks of the apostle Paul in the start of his ministry. And he goes to Antioch and the Christians there were taught. And it says at Antioch, the believers were first called what? Christians, meaning they were followers of Christ and they started acting like Christ. And so the people called them Christ ones. That's a high compliment.

They meant it as a derogatory term, but it was a high compliment and it stuck and it has stuck to this day. And so this is how it works. You follow Christ, you follow him and you take on his character. This becomes the glory of the gospel as you follow him, you take on his character. And in verse 3, clearly you are an epistle of Christ ministered by us.

It's like the branch is the natural outflow, the natural outgrowth of the tree. And what he is saying here is that there is a relationship between you and God. Paul is looking at the Corinthian believers and he says, I know why your life recommends the gospel, because you're not just putting on the task of just doing it. It's not like somehow you said, okay, I choose to become a Christian.

Now I'm going to try the best I can to live the Christian life. Paul says, that's not it. That's not what you're doing.

Why? Because that's not the gospel of grace. That's not the glory of the gospel. You're not just following the rules, because that's nothing more than outward conformity.

And you know what? It's dangerous for us. This is a big danger for us. For those of us who all of our lives have been familiar with the gospel, can we look at our lives and say, I am truly transformed, my life has changed.

Or do I, as I look at my life, can I admit that I'm just following the rules? We'll revisit that again at the end of the message. But this is something we need to be very honest to ourselves about. Paul looks at the believers, at the Corinthian believers, because if you remember what the city of Corinth was like, there's a high degree of immorality in the city of Corinth, and they were proud of their immorality. But Paul says, your lives have changed. You are not the same that you used to be. Your lives have changed.

And it's not just to put on, it's not you just following rules. Your lives have actually changed. You are different at the core. And what you are as Christians is an outgrowth of your relationship with Christ. So what are you saying here in this paragraph? He says, the glory is not the messengers.

God is making a masterpiece, and we are but instruments in his hands. Therefore, the glory is not ours. Paul is saying, the ministry is not about me. It's not about my credentials.

It's not about who I am or how much I know. The glory of the Gospel is the transformation that has actually happened in your lives, because God has changed you as human beings. Why do we need that change? Because we're all born with the same problem of self-preeminence. We have rebelled against God. We are born with a problem thinking that the universe revolves around us. The gospel of grace rescues us from that. It helps us understand that we are not the greatest and most important reality, but God is. It's interesting, you read in the headlines this week that one in four Americans do not understand that the earth revolves around the sun.

I'm like, how on earth? What are they teaching these kids? Self-esteem.

They feel good about themselves, but they know nothing. We need to know the scriptures. We need to know what the Bible says about believers.

Who are we in Christ? And it's not Christianity is not, I decide to become a Christian and now I'm going to try the rest of my life to live the Christian life as hard as I can. That's not grace. That's not the gospel of grace. That is not the glory of the gospel.

You have been reconciled to God for the purpose of relationship. The glory of the gospel is not the glory of the messengers. We're not like we're such a celebrity driven people in our culture, so celebrity driven. If a celebrity speaks or says something, oh, it's an authority, even though they might know nothing about what they're talking about. There was a redundancy there, I apologize for that.

But you look at some commercials, a guy who plays a doctor on a TV show, he's on a commercial advertising this particular pain medicine, and because this celebrity has advertised this particular pain medicine because he plays, he acts a doctor, the sales for that pain medicine skyrocket because this guy said so. You know, Paul says that's not what the ministry is about. It's not about me. It would be like going to Mount Rushmore and looking at the masterpiece carved out in that massive stone and saying, man, I want to see the tools that did that. Doesn't make sense, does it? There is a mind behind that masterpiece. That is where the glory goes.

And because that masterpiece is a manifestation of an intelligent mind that created that masterpiece. A changed life is the glory of the gospel and it recommends Christ. And so the glory is not the messengers, the glory is God's, because the glory of the gospel is the regenerating spirit of God with the illuminating word of God, transforms the redeemed people of God based on the reconciling son of God. And it points to the righteous goodness of God and overcomes the distracting enemy of God. That is the glory of the gospel.

And how does this all happen? How can we be sure of this? Because this life transformation is anchored in God's promise. Now, what we're going to talk about here this morning is a little bit theological and doctrinal. It is the word of God, and we're not going to sidestep it, OK? And so I want you to put your thinking caps on, put your ears on, because we're going to do a little bit of theology this morning. But it's important theology because it defines who we are in Christ. Too many Christians today do not understand this, and therefore they go about their lives trying as hard as they can to live the Christian life. And they don't realize and they don't tap into the resource that they have.

I'm passionate about this, can you tell? All right, verse three and six. How we are changed at the core, how we are transformed, how our lives change is not in us just trying harder to be better. How we change is anchored in the promise of God, and it comes down to the idea of covenant. God is a covenant making and a covenant keeping God. The word covenant is also the word testament. It is God saying, this is my promise of my disposition towards you.

When a couple gets married, they face each other, they hold hands, they look into each other's eyes and they say, this is my promise of my disposition towards you. It is my promise for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, I will be there for you. Thanks for joining us here at Delight in Grace. You've been listening to Rich Powell, the lead pastor at Grace Bible Church in Winston-Salem. The Delight in Grace mission is to help you know that God designed you to realize your highest good and your deepest satisfaction in him. The one who is infinitely good. We hope you'll join us again on weekdays at 10 a.m.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-24 12:07:24 / 2024-04-24 12:12:29 / 5

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