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The Goal of Christian Living

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
November 19, 2021 12:01 am

The Goal of Christian Living

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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November 19, 2021 12:01 am

If we don't know our goal as Christians, we may waste our lives in a state of aimlessness or in pursuit of the wrong things. Today, R.C. Sproul explains the will of God for the lives of His people.

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The Christian faith is complicated. The Bible is a thick book, but sometimes there are so many trees that we miss the forest. And people come to me again and again and they'll say something like this, R.C., what is that one, that single overarching issue that God wants each one of us to pursue?

Have you experienced that? When life gets complicated, you know, we tend to want someone just to whisper in our ear about what we should do next. The complexity and diversity of the options in front of us can paralyze, and that's especially true in our spiritual lives. What does God want from us? Is there a quick answer? Well, thankfully there is, and today here on Renewing Your Mind, Dr. R.C.

Sproul turns to Scripture and points us to the one overarching goal of Christian living. There's an episode in the story of Alice in Wonderland, if you recall, that Alice is traveling by herself, and she comes down a path, and she comes to a fork in the road. And as she comes to this fork in the road, she's completely bewildered. She doesn't know whether to go to the left or to go to the right. And while she's standing there trying to figure out which fork she's supposed to take, her attention is drawn up to the tree, and she notices the Cheshire Cat sitting up in the tree with his diabolical grin.

You remember the story. And now she's relieved because there's someone here to help her, and she says, oh, Mr. Cheshire Cat, please tell me which direction I'm supposed to go. And he said, that depends. And she said, depends on what? And the Cheshire Cat said, where are you going? And Alice said, I don't know. And the cat said, then it doesn't matter.

And it doesn't, does it? If we have no destination fixed in our minds, what possible difference can it be which way we go? You know, one of the central concerns in modern business, particularly when we experience economic crises, depressions, and recessions, and that sort of thing, is the question of focus. In our day, management by objective, people like Peter Drucker and the rest, has become the order of the times, and that business leaders are told again and again that if you are going to be successful in whatever endeavor you're engaged, you must have clearly defined goals, and you must sharpen your focus of what it is you're trying to accomplish, where you're trying to go, because if you don't know where you're going, if you don't know what your goal is, you will spin your wheels and wander in circles. But sometimes we're afraid to ask for directions, aren't we? Somebody just said to me the other day, why did Moses lead the people of Israel all over the lot, wandering here and there in what seems to be an apparently random pattern back during the 40 years wilderness experience? I said, I don't know why.

And he said, well, because even then, men were too proud to ask for directions. How many of you have ever seen The Wizard of Oz? Let me see. How many of you have seen it twice? How many of you have seen it three times, four times, five times, six times?

Even the camera guys have their hands up out there. I mean, I could go on 15 times, huh? Yes, 15 times.

These poor guys that work at the television studios, they did 115 times, haven't they? I mean, that's an American classic, and we all know the story of little Dorothy from Kansas who gets carried away in this tornado and so on, and she's lost, and she is trying to find the wizard. She's off to see the wizard. Now let me ask you, who are the other important characters? Who are the people that are part of the entourage of Dorothy?

Who else is there? The scarecrow. The scarecrow. And the scarecrow also wants to go and see the wizard. Why is the scarecrow going to see the wizard? What does the scarecrow want? What is his goal?

He wants a brain. Who else is in the entourage? The lion. And the lion joins this team, and the lion wants to go and see the wizard, and why does the lion want to see the wizard? He wants courage.

Who else is in the group? The tin man. So we've got the scarecrow, the lion, the tin man, and Dorothy. What's the tin man want? A heart. He wants to see the wizard because the wizard, with all of his magic and all of his power, will be able to give the tin man a heart. And then they have the little dog, Toto. And so the whole story focuses on people's desire to get to a destination, and each one that is traveling to that particular destination is on that trip for a different reason.

Each one wants something different. The tin man wants a heart. The scarecrow wants a brain. The lion wants courage, and all Dorothy wants is to go home.

And so the instructions they get are simple. The munchkins come and say what? Follow the yellow brick road. And all they have to do is follow, follow, follow, follow the yellow brick road. And they follow the yellow brick road, and all the yellow brick road does is wind all through witches and goblins and all kinds of trouble until finally they come and they get to see the wizard. What a delightful story. But it's a story of people reaching their goals. It's a story of people desperately working, fighting, hanging together to reach something that is of utmost importance to them. The Christian faith is complicated. The Bible is a thick book. It's filled with admonitions, instructions, and directions for the pursuit of happiness, for relief from guilt, for praise, for worship, for adoration, for all of these things.

But sometimes there's so much there in the forest, so many trees I should say, that we miss the forest. And people come to me again and again and they'll say something like this, R.C., what's the big idea? What really is the big idea? What is that one, that single overarching issue that God wants each one of us to pursue?

Maybe He wants you to be a banker and you to be a physician and you to be a lawyer. And He has all of that diversity, but is there one certain thing that all of us who are on this trip together must keep focused upon to be a Christian? What does it mean? Boil it down for us. Three easy lessons. In the Old Testament the question was raised by the prophet Micah, you remember? What does the Lord require of you?

He said you want a simple answer. You want a bottom line. What does the Lord require of you? But to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. That's what the life of godliness is about in a nutshell. To do justly, what does that mean? That means simply that a Christian is a person whose life is supposed to be characterized by an earnest pursuit of doing what is right. I need to pursue actively the ability to do what is right.

And I also need to have a life that is characterized by a love of mercy. There's no English expression that can really capture the essence of what Micah is saying there. Because the word there is the word hasen. And it's the word that is used frequently for God in the Old Testament. And it's the word that is defined by this phrase steadfast love. That God's loving mercy is a steadfast love.

One translation reads this way, to love with loyalty. You know somebody asked me right now how many people there are in this planet that I know love me with loyalty. I've met tens of thousands of people in my lifetime, and I know I couldn't name ten that I'm absolutely sure love me with loyalty. And yet those are the people that make our lives bearable.

They are the people that we love and love to be around. And yet God says what do I require of you? I want you to do what's right, and I want you to have a kind of quality of mercy about you that you love with loyalty. And finally, I want you to walk with me. I want you to walk with me not in arrogance, but humbly. Now that's the way Micah summarized the whole of the life of godliness. But in the New Testament we see a different summation. Another way in which the big idea is expressed in simple terms.

And it's expressed by Jesus when Jesus reduces all the activity and the requirements of Christianity to its bare minimum. By saying this, seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things that is everything else will be added unto you. Seek first.

Alright, let's look at that. Two words I want you to see here. Seek, and then the word first. Dorothy said, I'm trying to find the wizard. But in order to get to the wizard, I have to find him first. And in order to find him, I have to pursue him. I have to look for him.

I have to seek for him. The beginning of seeking the kingdom of God is at our conversion. That's when we start seeking God. And when Jesus is saying, seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, He's not speaking to pagans who hopefully at the end of their pursuit, at the end of their quest, they will discover Christ and be converted.

No. This is the priority of the Christian life. The priority of the Christian life is to seek. We are seekers.

And to seek means to look for something and to look diligently. Think of the way Jesus expressed the kingdom of God in the parables. He said the kingdom of God is like a coin that is lost by an impoverished woman.

He doesn't tell the story of a fabulously wealthy miser who mislays one coin, who wouldn't even miss that coin. But all of this woman's wealth is contained in one tiny coin, and she loses it. What does she do, says Jesus? She turns the house upside down. She sweeps every nook, every cranny.

She searches under the bed, in the cupboard, under the clothes, any place that she can find because she's not going to stop this pursuit until she finds what she's looking for. A man finds a pearl more beautiful, more precious, more valuable than any pearl that has ever appeared in history, and he's got to own it. And he goes to his bank account and he empties his treasures and everything that he's already owned and everything he possesses, he sells. He sells all that he has so that he can possess the one pearl of great price.

He's got to have it. There are ninety-nine sheep safe in the sheepfold, protected, secure, comfortable, but the shepherd counts the sheep and realizes that one is missing. And what does the good shepherd do? He goes out to seek and to save that which is lost, and he will not interrupt the pursuit until the Lamb is found. That's what it means to seek.

Jesus says that's what the kingdom of God is like. It is a mission of seeking. Well, what is it that we're looking for? Seek what? Well, he says seek first. The word there in the Greek is the word protos, and the word protos first is not simply a word in Greek that indicates the initial number in a series, like one, two, three, and one would be the first in the series.

But rather the term protos in the Greek communicates the idea of priority. What Jesus is saying here is seek above all else first and foremost. I want you to seek something, that the essence of the Christian life is the seeking that which is most important.

And so we're not left to guess between the relative values of certain pursuits. What Jesus says here is what the Christian life is. Here's the goal. Focus on the goal. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and everything else will take care of itself. That's the big idea. Well, again, what does it mean to seek the kingdom of God?

How do we translate that language into more modern language? In the 16th century, Luther tried to reduce all of the Christian life to one single idea. The big idea, according to Luther, was that the Christian is called to live all of life, quorum deo. This was the theme of Luther's quest. If somebody would have looked at the life of Martin Luther and said, Luther, what is your purpose statement for your organization? What is the purpose statement for your life? What is that one idea that you have learned? And Luther would have said, my one idea is quorum deo.

Well, what's that? Quorum deo means before the face of God or in the presence of God. Luther said, you know what I want? I want to see the face of God. Isn't that the highest vocation, the greatest desire, and the most marvelous promise that God gives in sacred Scripture, where He says that the ultimate goal of human existence will be fulfilled in what is called in theology the beatific vision. The beatific vision is a vision of blessedness. It is the vision that carries with it and instantly communicates the deepest possible level of fulfillment to the human heart, the fullest expression and satisfaction of the soul of a human being. Augustine said centuries ago, oh Lord, thou hast created us for thyself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee.

Existential philosophers have said that the chief characteristic of modern man is angst, anxiety, restlessness, a sense of lostness, of meaninglessness. Augustine said we'll be plagued with that restlessness until we find our rest in thee, and that rest will not reach its fullest expression until we see God face to face. The thing that is denied every Christian in this world is to be able to look directly on the face of God. The God we serve, the God we worship, the God we praise, the God we seek to obey is invisible.

When he expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden and he placed an angel with a flaming sword there to bar access to Eden, to say no more stepping forth into paradise. No one will ever see my face, and if you seek to see the face of God, you will die. No man can see me and live, God said. And yet he promises that at the end of the road, the end of the yellow brick road, we're going to be able to not only hear the voice of the wizard who is broadcasting behind a curtain, but we're going to be able to sneak behind the curtain and see his face. John tells us, beloved, we don't know yet what will be in heaven, but this much we know. We will be like him, for we will see him as he is.

That's the highest goal of the Christian life is to behold the face of God. Remember, this doesn't start in the New Testament. It goes in the Old Testament when the Jews would say their benediction, when they would part from another.

How would they pronounce the benediction? May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make his face to shine upon you, be gracious unto you. And may the Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon you and give you peace.

That was every Jew's dream, that they would experience peace, shalom, not simply the cessation from warfare and conflict and battle, but that they would receive the peace in their soul, the peace that passes understanding that comes from the beatific vision, that comes when God lifts up the light of his countenance upon his people and makes his face to shine upon them. That's what we live for, ladies and gentlemen. And that's what Luther was getting at when he said that all of life is to be lived, quorum Deo, before the face of God.

Now, that had two sides to it. On the one hand, it means being motivated by a desire to see the face of God, but all the while we are pursuing and seeking after the face of God. We realize that everything that we do is visible to Him.

He may not be visible to us, but we are certainly visible to Him. Luther is saying we must be conscious that even though we think we are living our lives in secret, behind closed doors, sub rosa, that in fact all of our life is lived, quorum Deo, before the presence of God. In other words, he's saying not simply pretend that you're living in the presence of God and beneath the gaze of God, because in fact we are living beneath the gaze of God, and we're going to live quorum Deo whether we want to live quorum Deo or not. But he says, just think, how would you live if you were acutely conscious that you were acting out what you were doing and speaking what you were saying in the immediate presence of God?

If you knew Christ were in the room watching you every minute, would you behave the way you behave? That's the big idea, to live quorum Deo, to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and everything else will be added unto you. What is the one single overarching thing that God wants each of us to pursue? It's to seek Him first and foremost. That's what the first question in the Westminster Shorter Catechism deals with, right? What is the chief end of man?

The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. We're grateful for Dr. R.C. Sproul's careful instruction today here on Renewing Your Mind. Thank you for being with us today.

I'm Lee Webb. This is classic R.C. Sproul material and a great example of why we're so appreciative of his teaching. The messages we've been featuring this week come from our special ministry partner archives, a collection of sermons, devotionals, and messages available only to those who sign up to give a monthly gift to the ministry.

Partners are a special group, and we serve them with exclusive resources and other benefits. Their stable monthly generosity also fuels everything we do here on Renewing Your Mind and through Ligonier. If you've benefited from Ligonier through the years, I hope you'll consider becoming a ministry partner. Friends like David are helping us reach more and more people with the gospel. Ligonier Ministries in total has had such a tremendous impact on my spiritual life.

I've listened to Renewing Your Mind for many, many years, and through Renewing Your Mind, through Table Talk magazine, and the various teaching series. Frankly, Ligonier has had the most impact on my understanding of God's word through the study of his word in the Bible and theology in general. I'm so thankful for Ligonier. My wife and I are Ligonier partners, and we just feel so blessed of being associated with Renewing Your Mind and the whole Ligonier organization.

Thank you so much. David, we thank you. And if you would like to have the messages you're hearing this week, when you, like David, become a ministry partner, they will be available immediately in your learning library, along with the rest of the ministry partner library. Ministry partners also benefit from exclusive monthly messages, a subscription to Table Talk magazine, and a Reformation Study Bible, just to name a few.

Our phone number is 800-435-4343, or you can give your gift online at renewingyourmind.org slash partner. Or if you're already a ministry partner, would you consider raising your monthly commitment? We are grateful for your support, especially in this, our 50th anniversary year.

Jesus promised that the world would be against us. Friends, family members, and co-workers may oppose our message to some degree or another, but every so often someone asks us to give a reason for the hope that we have. Are you prepared to give an answer? Beginning Monday, we'll feature Dr. Sproul's series, Objections Answered, and I hope you'll make plans to be with us for Renewing Your Mind. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-20 21:54:04 / 2023-07-20 22:02:48 / 9

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