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The Magnification of the Master

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
December 28, 2023 12:00 am

The Magnification of the Master

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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December 28, 2023 12:00 am

Listen to all of the full-length sermons in this series here: https://wfth.me/obsession.  An obsession with holy living must first begin with an obsession with the Holy One. Paul's passion to become like Christ was the natural overflow of his deep, intimate walk with Christ. How do we develop a passion for holiness? It begins getting a better picture of our great and holy God.

 

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Chief objective of everything we do, for in whatever you do, do it all, Paul wrote, to the glory of God. In other words, we are to do everything to the exaltation of God's name, to the honor of God's cause, the pleasure of God's nature, the leading and sovereign right of God, our majestic King. In a very plain sense then, living for the glory of the Lord, being obsessed with the glory of God means that in everything possible we emphasize Him and we de-emphasize ourselves. How are you doing in living out the truths of God's Word that you know so well?

It's not easy. Learning what the Bible says is much easier than living out what the Bible says. An obsession with holy living must first begin with an obsession of the Holy One. Paul's passion to become like Christ was the natural overflow of his deep, intimate walk with Christ.

How do you develop a passion for holiness? It begins with a better picture of your great and holy God. We're going to explore more of what that means on today's broadcast.

Here's Steven with today's lesson. When Chan Gailey was the head coach of Alabama's Troy State football team, they were a rather unlikely team playing for a national championship. It was a week before the big game, of course, interview requests were pouring in from all over and Chan was in the spotlight a few days before the championship game. This article that I read said Gailey was heading to the practice field when his secretary called him and wanted to transfer a phone call to him and he was irritated. He told her to take a message.

He's on his way to practice and she responded, are you sure it's Sports Illustrated? Of course, that changed everything and he said, I'll be right there. And he jogged his way back to the office. And as he was jogging back, he began to think about that article and he thought, man, this is going to be great publicity for Troy State.

In fact, he thought, you know, three pages would not be enough to do justice to our program. And even closer to his office, he started thinking that he might even end up on the cover. And he thought, wow, should I pose or should I go with some kind of action shot?

He wondered and he wrote that his head was spinning with all the possibilities. And then when he got into his office, he picked up the phone and said, hello? And the person asked, is this Chan Gailey?

Yes, it is. He replied with a measure of pride. Well, this is Sports Illustrated and we're calling to let you know your subscription is running out.

Do you want to renew? So much for that action shot, huh? Coach Gailey concluded that story by saying, you are either humble or you will be humbled in life, which is good to remember. There isn't anything more harmful, especially to the believer, than too much of himself.

Preening in the rearview mirror usually causes an accident, right? There isn't anything more damaging to relationships or to the work of Christ at large than the spirit of diatrophes. John the apostle wrote in 3 John 1 9, who loves the preeminence.

He loves to be first. On the other hand, you have John the baptizer who got it right when he said of Christ in John 3 30, he must increase and I must what? Decrease. You see, the antidote to the poison of self is the glory of Christ. The tragedy of the church at large over the last 25 years especially is that it in fact now openly and unashamedly has made the human being the object of our attention. We are now constantly looking into the mirror, not of the word, but of the world. In the average church today, he is decreasing and we are increasing. The more we stare at ourselves, the more we twist the motive for assembling and the self-help sessions, the more we turn the Bible into this manual for quick and easy principles for comfortable living and successful lives, the more self-centered we become and since we can never be satisfied with ourselves, all this does is condemn us to even greater dissatisfaction in our Christian experience.

Ladies and gentlemen, the way to improve life is not a better understanding of the human condition. It is not a better view of ourselves. It is a better view of God. It is a better, more clearer understanding of who God is. It is not even thinking less about us.

It is thinking more about him. We need a new obsession with the glory of God so that we like Moses will say to him, Lord, show us your glory. Show us your glory. Paul reminded the Corinthians that the glory of God was the main point of apostolic preaching, true preaching. He said, we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord. 2 Corinthians 4, 5. Further on, Paul said that the glory of God was the subject of the assembly study. He said, God is the one who is shown in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 4, verse 6. That element of God's glory will become one day tangibly revealed to us all in the heavenly city. John the Apostle wrote in Revelation 21, verse 23, that city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it for the glory of God gives it light.

Imagine that. Even today, the heavens declare the glory of God, chief objective of everything we do for in whatever you do, do it all, Paul wrote, to the glory of God. In other words, we are to do everything to the exaltation of God's name, to the honor of God's cause, the pleasure of God's nature, the leading and sovereign right of God, our majestic King. In a very plain sense then, living for the glory of the Lord, being obsessed with the glory of God means that in everything possible, we emphasize him and we de-emphasize ourselves. The glory of God is our goal, it is our subject, it is our hope, it is our delight, it is our message, it is our future.

That's what it means to magnify the master. That's what it means to be obsessed with the glory of God. Now, in his personal comments near the end of his letter to the Roman believers, Paul has revealed nothing less than these same obsessions. In Romans chapter 15, where we've been studying, we've already uncovered his obsession for godly living and we've also taken a close look at his obsession with the grace of God. And now, today, we're going to see him revealing his devotion, his fixation, his obsession, we could call it, with the glory of God.

We stopped at verse 16 in our last session in this text. Let's pick it up there with verse 17, Romans chapter 15, verse 17. Therefore, Paul writes, in Christ Jesus, I have found reason for boasting in things pertaining to God. And my first point would be this as we expound on this particular text, Paul is simply delighting in elevating the person and work of Jesus Christ. In other words, Paul is refusing to be the primary topic of conversation. And you would think at the end as he sort of draws all the strings together that somehow Paul would sort of insert himself in to the picture. The truth of the matter remains, however, you cannot be obsessed with God's glory and be obsessed with your own at the same time.

They are mutually exclusive preoccupations. You cannot promote the reputation of Christ while at the same time promoting your own. This is Paul's way of saying, I just want to stop a minute and brag about Jesus. I want to boast about Jesus Christ. If I have anything to brag about, it is him. It is he. It is he.

And so he, as it were, brags or boasts about his wonderful Lord, which is difficult to do if you're wanting to add your latest achievement to the prayer list, isn't it? More often we're like that little eager who put all 60 pounds into one ferocious swing and barely scraped the ball and it wiggled back to the pitcher and the pitcher picked it up and threw it to first base. But it went over the first baseman's head and the runner rounded first and headed for second. And somebody in right field picked up the ball and threw it wildly over the second baseman's head. And he tagged second and headed for third. And finally, somebody in left field got it, threw it home and it sailed into the dugout of the opposing team.

And he crossed home plate and he said, that's the first time I've ever hit a home run in my life. We are so like that. We step up to the plate for the Lord and we barely tip the ball. We connect and he arranges everything so that we make it around the bases. And then we show up at the prayer meeting.

We talk about how we managed to pull it off. Paul would say, God forbid that I should glory or boast save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Galatians 6 14. This is the magnification of the master.

It is he. The apostle Paul delighted in elevating the person of Jesus Christ and we've already seen throughout the letter time and time again how he's done that. Secondly, and closely associated with that thought is this, Paul declined being placed upon the pedestal of human praise. Notice verse 18, where Paul goes on and he says, for I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed. Here's Paul refusing to accept any credit for spiritual fruit. You have to think, come on Paul, masses of Gentiles are coming to faith because of your testimony. You are the voice of God in this generation.

You are the signature spokesman, but he writes in effect, don't put me on the pedestal. Don't elevate me, elevate Christ in me. He says, I wouldn't even presume to think of speaking about anything except Christ in me. He, if you think about it, you open the New Testament and read and Paul would have had more reason to boast than any other, more than Peter, more than John. He was used by God to reveal more of the New Testament than any other writer.

You go to the book of Acts, which is the transitional book from old covenant to new covenant. And it is the story of the work of the spirit of God through the apostles. And basically it is a biography of Paul. If anybody deserved to be on the cover of a magazine, you could just see times man of the year, missionary of the century or whatever, it would be the apostle Paul. And there isn't any doubt among Bible believing Christians even today that Paul was and still is the most influential Christian author, theologian, pastor, teacher of all time. He impacted the world and near the end of his letter when you think he'd say, well, okay, I guess, you know, I was a little amazing. He says, I won't even presume to say anything except Christ in me. It is he, it is he.

But Paul goes on and tells the Corinthians in second Corinthians chapter 12 verse nine. I, I will boast always going to brag about something he is listen, I will boast about my weaknesses. You want me to tell you about me? Let me tell you where I failed. Let me tell you what I have struggles with. Let me tell you the challenges that I have endured. I am well content, he said with weaknesses, with insults, distresses, with persecutions and difficulties for Christ's sake. Why? Because I've learned that when I am weak, then I am what?

Strong. Follow the progression of Paul. I'm sure you're aware of it.

I know I've mentioned it many times. It just strikes me as I think of him as he became more and more enamored with the glory of God and the grace of God in his own life. Early on in his ministry, he referred to himself to the Corinthians as the least of the apostles.

You line 12 men up and I'm last in line. Later on in his life to the Ephesians, he wrote that he considered himself the least of the saints. Now the broader world of Christianity, you line all the Christians up, hundreds of thousands of them at this point, and I would be last.

The least important. Finally near the end of his life though, he writes in one of his last letters to Timothy, he said, I am the chief of what? Sinners.

Line everybody up on the planet and I'm the worst among them. Does Paul need his self-image tweaked? No, he has a proper image of himself as it relates to the grace of God. But you hear that and you think, come on, Paul, you're the great apostle. You're the chosen instrument to herald the grace of God to the Gentile world. You are the signature spokesman of all of this. What's all this chief of sinners stuff?

They're not going to put that on the cover of a magazine. Look at what you've accomplished, Paul. Donald Gray Barnhouse summarized what Paul could have easily gloried and listen to these words. He said, Paul has this amazing tenacity to enter a completely pagan city which practices devil worship and confront people with the gospel, lead them to faith in the name of Christ, and then he hovers over them in prayer and by constant admonition he lifts them from the most corrupt stratum of heathenism to the highest level of Christian godliness. Certainly Paul did not deny what God did in him, that would be false humility, nor did Paul belittle it. But at the end of the day, he teaches us all that we are simply instruments in the hand of God, which is good news. No paintbrush ever takes credit for the masterpiece. No violin ever says, I made beautiful music, didn't I? It all belongs to the simple fact that they are instruments in the hand of the master. And likewise, we as Christians recognize the pedestal belongs to Christ alone.

It is he. As a young man, one Christian composer and singer who was and still is evidently popular in England had become proud of his accomplishments and his fame. He and other singers and musicians had formed a group that led music for his home church on Sundays. On one occasion, he writes, their pastor confronted the entire group with what he discerned to be pride in them.

He challenged them that it was sort of oozing out. They were proud of their accomplishment, their performance, their musical ability, and he said what they had lost was true worship. And they were all insulted by this charge, and they packed up their instruments and all of them left the church except one. This young man who took that rebuke and recognized its truth and confessed to the Lord. Not too long after that, he would write his confession and rededication to the Lord in a song that has now been sung for a number of years on both sides of the pond. In that prayer to the Lord, he acknowledges that the Lord wants more than just a song. He wants a life and he says, I am now coming back to the heart of worship. And it's all about who?

You. That's Paul's perspective here. He is intent on the magnification of the master. And he delights in elevating Jesus Christ.

He declines the pedestal of human praise. And I want you to notice one more thing. He directs the spotlight back onto the Holy Spirit. Notice verse 19. In the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit, so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyric am I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. He starts out by talking about in the power of signs and wonders. He preached with the power of signs and wonders.

Paul informs us of the truth that the apostolic community had those authenticating miracle working powers that demonstrated that they were indeed servants of the living God. Simeon or sign literally refers to the serving of some mark. It marks out something. It points the way to some truth, like a sign on the road that points you toward Raleigh. You don't stop at the sign and say, isn't it great?

We're home. You're not there yet. It just points the way. The signs are not to be embraced or pursued. They point to truth. Signs and wonders go together in the New Testament. Wonders is a word that simply means what it does in people's minds. It makes them wonder.

It makes them go, wow. And then the sign attached to the marvel points to truth. So Paul says that we in this apostolic era building, as it were, laying the foundation of the church have these authenticating miracles. In fact, in 2 Corinthians 12, 12 he states, the signs of a true apostle were performed among you.

In other words, those authenticating marks of that apostle, which is truly from God, that messenger, which is truly pointing to the truth of God, did with all perseverance preach by signs and wonders and miracles. Now, you need to remember that in Paul's day, the New Testament did not exist, of course. Paul never heard the Sermon on the Mount. He never read John 3.16. He couldn't turn to 1 Peter or Jude.

He'd never heard of the Book of Revelation. Without signs and wonders, these badges of authenticity, they would have lacked any verifying proof that they were indeed from God. And so God and his providence gave to these apostles the same ability that Jesus Christ demonstrated. So they were able to do what he did that even the rabbi said only God can do.

The crippled were healed and the blind were given sight and they could go to a graveyard and they could speak and the dead came to life. It was the undeniable sign of God's favor and seal. Today, we're not laying the foundation of the apostles. We're building and have been now for centuries upon the foundation of apostolic truth. We have the foundation now inscripturated in this finished book of God and the verifying seal and sign of a true preacher, a true herald, a true teacher, is not some miracle they could perform out of the graveyard across the parking lot, it is their connection to and exposition of this book. So we test the spirits now to see what they say about Jesus Christ.

We hear what they are teaching about this book. That's how we verify whether or not they are truly heralds of God. And now we're told that the Word of God is sufficient to prepare every Christian for every good work. Somebody once said to one pastor that it wasn't fair that we couldn't turn water into wine anymore.

Wouldn't that be great? That'd prove a lot of things. And this pastor said, well, I have seen even greater miracles than that.

I have seen an alcoholic father of a newborn baby girl give his heart to Jesus Christ and by the power of the gospel, I have seen whiskey turned into milk for the baby. But go back in time for a moment. Think about what it was like when the apostle Paul served and lived. I mean, imagine you're having a testimony meeting today in the assembly and I'm up here and I'm saying, anybody got a testimony? And you're quiet and you don't want to raise your hand. And Paul, you know, slips in the back and Paul, you know, hey, you got a testimony?

Well, sure. You won't believe what happened in Lystra. Man was crippled from birth and I was preaching and I knew that I had the power to heal him and I just spoke the word, stand and walk. And that man leapt to his feet and the whole city was in an uproar and they began to call me Jupiter. Anybody else have a testimony?

What God's done in your life? I'd pretty much shut the whole thing down. What if Paul went on to say, oh, you won't believe what happened? Let me tell you this one about the girl in Philippi who was demon possessed and she was following around and it was irritating and I finally turned to her and I said to the demon, come out of her. And the demon came out. Let me tell you about the guy raised from the dead, this little boy.

That's a good one. He could walk into a room and you might as well just listen. And yet he says, no, it's not just signs and wonders, but you find tucked just after that phrase in verse 19, in the power of the spirit. You could translate that in connection with the Holy Spirit.

Signs and wonders due to, connected to, the result of, to broaden it even further, the power of the Holy Spirit. In other words, Paul was saying, it wasn't me. It is he.

It is he. Paul was obsessed with the glory of God and did not want in any way to rob God of praise or glory. He delighted in elevating Christ.

He declined being placed on the pedestal of human praise. He directed the spotlight of attention back onto the person of the Holy Spirit. More than anything, Paul wanted the magnification of the master to occur. You'll have that chance tomorrow in the way you speak, in the way you work, in the way we connect with people, our demeanor, our smile, our work ethic, our discipline, and all of it to the glory of God simply means we are elevating his name.

We are magnifying him. And when somebody comes along to you and says, you are really the best employee I've got, there's your chance. I want you to know it isn't me. It is Christ in me. I shared this story a number of years ago, seven years ago to be exact. I looked it up in word search to make sure, that's what preachers do to make sure they don't repeat stories every two or three months. And it was seven years ago, if you were here, you probably remember it.

I know I've never forgotten this story. And I was reminded of it as I was studying this description of Paul's humility and his fixation on the glory of God. It's a story about a well-known Christian leader. His name was not given, which only fits the story even better. So we don't know who it was, but a well-known Christian leader was picked up by a seminary student at the airport who was going to preach in his school. And the student was awed to be in the car with this eminent theologian and leader. And he offered compliments to this man. And the leader just refused to allow any of it to enter in.

He just didn't accept any accolade. He almost distanced himself from the ministry that God had given him. And finally, the young man with some exasperation said, you know, surely you see yourself, your gifts as primary factors of why God has done what he's done for you. And the older gentleman paused and then said, young man, when I was growing up on the farm, I had to walk to school and back every day. And I'd walk along a pasture where there was a wooden fence with long wooden slats interrupted every 10, 12 feet with wooden posts. He said, on one occasion, as I was walking along that wooden fence, I saw on top of one of the fence posts perched there, a turtle. I knew someone who'd put him there. Turtles can't climb fences.

They can't get up there by themselves. And the man went on to say, son, I am nothing more than a turtle on a fence post. That about says it all, doesn't it? That's what you call refusing the pedestal of praise, redirecting the spotlight back, understanding you are an instrument in the hand of God, and you just happen to be captivated and dedicated to the glory of God, which is good news then for all of us, because we are all ordinary Christians, all very ordinary. Whether you are well-known or unknown, God's truth is displayed through the simple.

God has designed it so that his strength is revealed through the weak. His grace is distributed through the needy. God's glory then is magnified when weak and simple and needy, ordinary Christians praise him, refuse the pedestal, elevate Christ and love and worship him and promote his name above their own, ordinary Christians who at the end of the day are nothing more than turtles placed on fence posts. And when we understand all of that, we will magnify our master and we will a little bit more like Paul, become obsessed and it will be obvious that we are fixated on the glory of God. That's a powerful reminder today and I hope this time in God's Word has been a blessing to you. This is Wisdom for the Heart featuring the Bible teaching of Stephen Davey. If you'd like to dive deeper into this topic, we have a book entitled Holy Obsession that comes out of this current series. During this series we're offering Holy Obsession at a discounted price and we can give you information about that if you call us today. Dial 866-48-BIBLE.

It's always a blessing and encouragement to us when we hear from our listeners and learn how God's using these daily messages to help you walk in wisdom. You can write to us if you send an email to info at wisdomonline.org. If you prefer corresponding by mail our address is Wisdom International P.O. Box 37297 Raleigh, North Carolina 27627. Join us next time on Wisdom for the Heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-28 00:17:36 / 2023-12-28 00:28:03 / 10

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