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The Love of Christ Controls Us

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
November 24, 2022 9:00 am

The Love of Christ Controls Us

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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November 24, 2022 9:00 am

Today Pastor J.D. looks at the apostle Paul’s example of what it means to be controlled by Christ’s love when it comes to your giving and what your generosity says about Jesus’ value to you.


Today on Summit Life with J.D. Greer.

C.S. Lewis said you want to know how to know if you're living like a disciple of Jesus in terms of generosity? He said these two things will be true. Number one, what you give away will scare you. And number two, people will question your sanity. If those two things are not happening, if your generosity is not scaring you and is not making people question your sanity, he says then you've not really begun to live as a disciple of Jesus. Welcome to Summit Life with pastor, author, and theologian J.D.

Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Bidevich. Well, happy Thanksgiving.

We are so glad that you've set aside a few minutes to join us today, whether you're on the road to visit family or getting the turkey in the oven or just relaxing after your meal. Okay, so have you ever thought about the fact that when you choose to give generously, it's not because God needs your money? He desires your giving because he wants you to be all in for his mission in the world. Today, Pastor J.D. looks at the Apostle Paul's example of what it means to be controlled by Christ's love when it comes to your giving and what your generosity says about Jesus's value to you.

So let's get started. Pastor J.D. Greer titled today's message, The Love of Christ Controls Us. We have a Bible with you. I'd love you to take it out now and open it to the book of Second Corinthians in the New Testament. I believe it is the seventh book in the New Testament, so find your way there. Second Corinthians chapter 5. We're going to begin in verse 13. Verse 13, if we are beside ourselves, the Apostle Paul said, beside ourselves, if we're out of our minds, it's for God. So you're not a Christian. You're like, I feel like Christians are crazy.

It's right there in the Bible. If we're out of our minds, it's for God. Verse 14, for the love of Christ controls us because we have concluded this, that one has died for all, therefore all have died. And he died for all that those who live might no longer live for themselves, but for him who for their sake died and was raised. So from now on, therefore, we're not going to regard anyone according to the flesh.

I'll explain what that means here in a minute. All this is from God who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself by not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us now those who have been reconciled this ministry, this message of reconciliation. Therefore, Paul says, we are ambassadors for Christ.

An ambassador is somebody who represents another government, another king. So God, our king, is now making his appeal to others through us. So we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God.

You see, for our sake, God made him to be sin who knew no sin so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. In Paul's majestic passage here, I see three things for us. Number one, I see a motivation.

Number two, I see a measure. And then number three, I see a mission for how we are to live. All of these things, the motivation, the measure, and the mission of how we are supposed to live center around a message that we have for anyone that is outside of Christ.

The message to you who are outside of Christ is be reconciled to God. God made Jesus to be the penalty for your sin. He's taken out your sin penalty and now all that remains is for you to receive and come into fellowship with the Father.

It's a gift that has already been given to you. But for us who are believers, who have received that gift, it means three things for us. Number one, it is a motivation for us to live sacrificially and that motivation is the love of Christ. Paul says in verse 14, the love of Christ controls us. The love of Christ had become Paul's guiding motivating principle. Paul had begun to see everything in his life through the lens of the love of Christ. What does it mean to be controlled by the love of Christ? Well, let me give you a couple practical things.

You could write these down in A as A or B if you're taking notes. To be controlled by the love of Christ means you are captivated by his love for you. You're captivated by his love for you. Paul never seemed to get over his salvation experience. He said, I'm convinced that if Jesus died for me, then if I've got life because of his death, then I should no longer live for myself.

I ought to live for the one who gave his life to rescue me from death. You know, those people who understand the gospel never look at their lives the same. I've explained it to you like this before. If you got home one afternoon and there's a guy sitting on your porch, a friend of yours, who says to you, hey, while you were out, somebody came by that you owed money to and I paid your debt for you. My question to you is, what is your response to that person?

And your answer should be, it depends on how much they paid. So if the postman showed up and said, hey, he didn't put enough stamps on this envelope and you owe an extra, you know, 49 cents or whatever, then I put the 49 cents on there for you. And then you pat him on the back and you say, thanks for doing that.

You're a great friend. If they say, however, you know, the mafia showed up while you were gone and it turns out your gambling past has caught up with you and you owed a million and a half dollars and they were here to kill you. But don't worry about it. I just, I took care of you a million and a half dollar debt. At that point, it's not appropriate if you just slap them on the back and say, thank you, friend.

You fall at their feet and say, command to me, right? Because everything in your life is going to look different from that point. Paul said, my understanding of what Christ saved me from and what he gave to save me from it is something that demands not just a casual response. I am convinced that no longer, because I'm alive through his death, no longer do I live for myself.

I live entirely for him. I sometimes think about what it's going to be like to stand before Jesus when I finally get my mind around what it is that he gave up to save me and what he saved me from. I mean, I understand it now. I can explain it to you now, but there's something I think about seeing him in that moment, seeing the nail piercings in his hands and his feet and to get a glimpse of what he has given to me and what he saved me from. I know that in that moment, there is nothing that I gave up or sacrificed for him on earth that will not seem like it was a thousand times, a million times worth it.

I understand that now with my mind, but there's something about seeing it then. And now I'm trying to do what Paul says here and just be captivated by the love of Christ and fall at his feet and say, everything is different now. Summit Church, that is our motivation for giving.

Let me be very clear. Again, we do not give because God has needs. We do not serve a God with needs. God has never had a need. And if God did have a need, he certainly wouldn't come to you and me with it. Our God multiplies loaves and fishes. He speaks universes into existence through words.

When he wants his apostles to pay a tax bill, he sends them out fishing and puts a hundred thousand dollars in the mouth of a fish. God doesn't have needs. He doesn't approach us from a place of need. A God who has needs is not worthy of worship. We don't give because God has needs. We give because in giving, we declare his value to us and our love for him. God never stands before his people with his hat in hand saying, please, sir, can you spare some cash, please?

I've got so much I want to do on earth, but I just can't afford it. If you could just give me some of your cash, I could get so much done. That is not a God that is worthy of worship. We do not give because God has needs. We give because in giving, we are declaring to him something about his value to us and our love for him.

Do you ever think about that? Do you ever think about what does your generosity say about the value of Jesus to you? Because Jesus said, if you want to know what you really love, then just follow the trail of your money. A friend of mine said, based on that, that means I love the federal government.

Yeah, yeah, I get that, but I mean your discretionary income. What does what you give your money to say about his value to you? Because where you place your treasure is the place that you have put your heart. To be controlled by the love of Christ means you have been captivated by his love for you. Here's the second thing it means. It means that his love pours out of you toward others.

His love pours out of you to whether you are committed to letting his love flow through you is how I would say that one. You see, Paul saw people in only two categories. He saw them in the categories of saved and lost. People that had been rescued by Christ and people that Christ had died for that have yet to be rescued. You see how he says in verse 16, we regard no one according to the flesh any longer? In other words, we don't see people according to the normal categorizations. They're rich or poor or young or old or powerful or weak, Republican or Democrat, white or black, Duke fans, UNC fans, educated or blue-collar. We only see people in the categories of those who know Christ and those who don't. We regard no one any longer according to the flesh.

There are only two categories of people. You might have heard 1912 when the Titanic sunk, when word got back to England where the ship had originally hailed from, that there had been this tragedy and 1,500 people were dead. People, as you would imagine, begin to panic if they knew someone that was on the ship. So they put up this gigantic chalkboard in downtown London that had two columns on it.

One column said saved, the other column said lost. And as they got words, the names, they just put them in these various categories. If you've seen the movie, you know that going onto that ship, people were in all different kind of strata. You had your Kate Winslet, before she got creepy kind of people who were upper class.

Then you had your Leonardo DiCaprio, who has always been creepy, people that were in the lower class. But in that moment, they're no longer in any kind of class. They're simply saved or lost. That's how Paul had learned to see his world, is he saw his world through that lens and he says, I was one whom the love of Christ plucked up out of the waters of judgment. So now his love for other perishing people who are in the same condition that I was in, now controls the agenda of my life. If you really believe the gospel, it completely wrecks your life. And you can never see your life.

You can never see other people through the same lens again. There since by faith, I saw that stream, thy flowing wound supply. Redeeming love has been my theme and shall be till I die. Does the love of Christ control you? Are you captivated by his love for you so that it is the number one place in your heart? And does his love through you control the agenda of your life?

Control the agenda of your life. Here's number two. I see a measure for our sacrifice. And that measure is Christ's sacrifice for us. Two words characterize Paul's description of Christ's sacrifice.

Total verse 15, substitutionary verse 21. Total, he died for us. And Paul says, if Jesus died for us, then our response to him ought to be in some measure the same. Jesus did not tithe his blood for you. Jesus poured out all of it. And Paul says, therefore, our response ought to be in proportion to the sacrifice that if he poured out at all for us, then we're not going to give him 10% of our lives and then go on with our lives.

We're going to give him everything. We should offer, Paul would say, God, a blank check with our lives. Your blank checks are scary. If you've ever given a friend, I've given friends, sometimes I owed them money, didn't know exactly how much, so I just signed a check. And then you hand that blank check to the friend.

And then all of a sudden you have this crisis of, do I know this person as well as I think I know this person? Is this the moment that they revealed themselves to be not who I thought they were and they completely emptied out my bank account with my signature and a blank check? I much prefer to give my friends gift cards. After these $25, that's it.

You can spend all you want, but up to $25 and then that's it. Have you given God, listen, have you given God a blank check with your life or have you given him a gift card? There's a lot of you giving him a gift card. It's an expensive gift card.

Oh God, here it is. But God says, I never asked for a gift card because I didn't give you a gift card. I poured out my life. Therefore, those of us who live are no longer giving God gift cards. We're giving God blank checks.

And you say any place, anytime you fill in the amount, you fill in the location, it all belongs to you. We'll get right back to our teaching in just a moment here on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Find out more about this ministry right now by visiting us at You know, we work hard here at Summit Life to stay engaged with you, our fellow listeners. And one way to be sure to stay plugged in is by following Pastor JD on social media, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, all tools that can help spread the good news of the gospel each and every day.

With daily encouragement and shareable wisdom, you can send the message of hope to those that you love simply by following us today. Search for Pastor JD Greer on your social platforms or visit our website for links to his daily content. We'd love to see you right now at

That's Now let's return for the conclusion of today's message. Once again, here's Pastor JD Greer.

Here's the second word, substitutionary. Paul writes one of the great verses in all the Bible, verse 21. For our sake, God made him to be sin who knew no sin so that in him we might become a righteousness of God. Jesus' sacrifice was an exchange for us. On the cross he took our place of condemnation.

That's what it means. He became our sin. And he gave us his position of privilege. We became his righteousness.

We traded places. That which belonged to us became his possession. That which belonged to him became our possession. There's a story in the Old Testament where Jacob is going to bestow the blessing of the firstborn on Joseph's oldest son. Joseph's older son and younger son are standing in front of him. And when he reaches out his hands to bless them, the right hand is the hand of blessing, he switches his hands and lays the hand of blessing on the hand of the younger son and lays the lesser hand on the head of the older son so that what belonged to the older son, the inheritance, the position of privilege, was now going to the younger son and what belonged to the younger son was now going to the older.

Joseph protested, but Jacob said no. This is how God wants it. Because, he explained, he was giving a picture of the Messiah. At the cross, God crossed his hands. And what belonged to Jesus, the older brother, the position of privilege and blessing and intimacy with God was bestowed upon us because what belonged to us, shame, condemnation, penalty of sin, was placed upon the head of Jesus. It's what Martin Luther called the great exchange. But don't miss what Paul is doing here with that truth.

In this context, he's using it, listen, as an example of how we live. A believer, he says, takes what they have earned. They take what they deserve and they bestow it on someone else. You get that? They take the hand of blessing where their talents and their resources have earned things and instead of laying it on their own head to bless themselves, they lay it on the head of somebody else.

They cross their hands. The benefit of my success and my talent is not going to be for me, it's going to be for a lost world. Remember, Paul would say in two, three chapters, remember the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. That though he was rich, that we had that position, that for your sake, he became poor. So that you through his poverty would become rich. You got the riches, he got the poverty. And then Paul says, then you do that.

You switch hands and you take your hand of blessing and you lay it on somebody else. Here's my question. Is that how you see your life and resources? Is that how you see your life and resources? That you're going to leverage what you have, the position you have, the power, the money, you're going to leverage it for somebody else?

The world, of course, says that kind of mentality is crazy. And in fact, the context of this passage is Paul defending himself against the charge and he's crazy. Did you notice that?

Did you see the first verse? For if we are beside ourselves, if we've lost our minds, it's for God. When is the last time your generosity made somebody question your sanity?

C.S. Lewis said, you want to know how to know if you're living like a disciple of Jesus in terms of generosity? He said, these two things will be true. Number one, what you give away will scare you. And number two, people will question your sanity.

If those two things are not happening, if your generosity is not scaring you and is not making people question your sanity, he says, then you've not really begun to live as a disciple of Jesus. So there's a motivation, there's a measure. Number three, there's a mission in our sacrifice. That mission is the ministry of reconciliation. Paul says to the church, God gave the ministry of reconciliation. The church has a unique, very important mission and that is reconciling people to God.

The gospel declares that Christ has borne our sin and our place, the sin of every human being in the world, but it does not do them any good if they've never heard about it. And so Paul says it is the preaching of this message of reconciliation that God has placed in the church. And listen to me, it is the most important mission in the world. All other ministries, all other missions, apart from this one fail.

Helping people out of poverty, helping them to get ahead, helping them to get along, helping them progress in business, helping them get educated. These things are wonderful and necessary, but apart from reconciliation to God, their benefits are short-lived. To take care of the needs of someone's body, to take care of their social needs, and not address their primary need, which is to be reconciled to God, is to do them a grave disservice. This is the ministry God gave to the church. The church is God's primary instrument for reconciliation. Churches make disciples of Jesus better than any organization on the planet.

It's where God has placed the locusts of his Spirit. It is the community in which disciples are formed, which means two things for us, for me. Number one, our focus in ministry at this church will always be the message of reconciliation. That's not to say we don't also meet physical needs, because Paul says we're Christ's ambassadors. That means we represent Christ, and he met physical needs, so we meet physical needs just like he did. That's why we have ministries to the homeless, orphaned, prisoner, unwed mother, high school dropout.

It's why we have a counseling center at this church. But the primary focus of every ministry we have, like his, is reconciling people to God. It means that in everything we do, we focus on developing churches and planting churches. You want to summarize the Apostle Paul's entire ministry.

Here it is. Go to places where there are no churches and plant them. Go to places where there are churches and help develop them, which means that in everything we do, as we try to bless communities around the world, we're always doing it either in partnership with a local church or we're doing it to try to help get a church planted there.

Here's the second implication for me and I think for you. Because the ministry of reconciliation is the most important ministry and because it is the ministry given specifically to the church, the primary place of my investment and every disciple of Jesus will always be the local church. There are a lot of organizations that do good in the world and hear me, I support many of them out of my personal resources. There are several things every month that Veronica and I give to, but my primary calling is to invest in the organization that God has bestowed the ministry of reconciliation upon. The church, we say around here, is God's plan A. So because it is God's plan A for reconciling the world, it will be my primary focus for the investment of my life and my resources. Some at church, do you realize how important our role is? And it's not because we are talented people, because we are not.

In fact, we're kind of a dysfunctional community and if you're new here and you haven't figured that out yet, enjoy. It is because God has said that his church is going to be his ministry of reconciliation and there's nothing that can distract us from that. This is what God, how he plans to reconcile his world as we are God's plan A, and that should humble you and scare you and inspire you all at the same time. We got a motivation, we got a measure, we got a mission. That's why two years ago we did this all in. So let me share with you now a little bit of what we, by God's grace, what the Holy Spirit has allowed us to accomplish these past two years.

Give you just sort of a rundown of things. We purchased and we launched the Blue Ridge Campus. We started the Chapel Hill Campus because Tar Heels need Jesus too.

Tar Heels need Jesus especially. We launched the Downtown Durham Campus, which is already, by the way, running over 650 people a week. The Chapel Hill Campus has over a thousand people a week. We have renovated and expanded our North Riley Campus and our Briar Creek Campus, creating more capacity there. Doing all of this has enlarged our capacities to reach people. We've added a total of 2,500 seats per service from all of our campuses combined. Listen to this, because of these changes, in the last two years, listen to this, 11,000 first-time guests have walked through our doors.

And that's just the ones that have told us about themselves. Yes, you should be thankful for that. Stop, stop, stop, stop. I am not letting you clap like that. Either you clap like real people or you do not clap at all, okay?

You're going to wish you'd held your applause when I say this next thing. We baptized nearly 1,400 people in the last two years, and almost 2,000 new members have joined our church in these last two years. And y'all, when I say this, I don't want you to hear numbers.

I know a few of you are like number people, but don't hear numbers. Hear numbers of people, individual people, that God has used you in this ministry of reconciliation. The love of Christ controls us. That's the title of today's message on Thanksgiving. That's certainly something to be thankful for. You're listening to Summit Life with pastor and theologian J.D.

Greer. This Thanksgiving, our team here at Summit Life is thankful for you. J.D., why don't you tell us a little bit about why that is? You know, Molly, when God opened the door for us six years ago to take this ministry to a national audience, it was a big step of faith. And we had this assurance. We believe that if we would do what God was telling us to do, that He would provide for us, that along with the calling He was giving to us, He would provide other people to walk alongside us and provide for us. It's like Hudson Taylor used to say, God's ministry done in God's way will never let God supply. Well, you, Summit Life listener, you were the answer to that prayer. And many of you responded to the Holy Spirit and you stepped in and you generously gave.

And we don't take that for granted for a single second. Because I know for many of you, it also comes with a commitment to pray for this word as it goes out. We get story after story of people whose lives are impacted and changed. And it's just so encouraging. And it's not just because of our faith and our obedience and doing the preaching and the broadcasting, but also because of your commitment in giving. Let me say a special thank you to those who have joined the Gospel Partner team by committing to monthly giving.

That generosity especially enables us to plan and be able to take advantage of opportunities when they come up. So I just want to say thank you. We want to tell you Happy Thanksgiving. Realize that as we celebrate Thanksgiving this year, one of the things that we're thankful for here at Summit Life is you. We really are thankful. And as a token of thanks to those who give today, we'd love to send you our special Advent Devotional. What we celebrate this Christmas, God coming to earth, was always a part of God's plan. During the Advent season, God uniquely invites us to meet with Him. So we're offering you this 25-day Advent Devotional to help you prepare your heart for Christmas.

It's called He is Here. For your gift of $35 or more today, we'll send you a copy of this new resource as our way of saying thanks for your generous support. You can also request the book when you make your first donation as a monthly Gospel Partner. So give us a call at 866-335-5220. And remember to ask for the devotional titled He is Here. That number again is 866-335-5220.

Or you can give and request the book online at I'm Molly Vidovitch. Come back at this same time Friday when Pastor J.D. Greer continues this message about the love of Jesus right here on Summit Life. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-27 10:24:45 / 2022-11-27 10:35:42 / 11

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