2006.06.04 What are you worth
What are you worth? 2 Cor 5:11-21
If you owe a car one thing that you are always checking out as you drive along – is the price of gas, especially when your tank is getting low. Everyone loves a good deal when filling up the car. Everyone could tell a story of how cheap gas used to be. I remember when gas was only….. The price of gas fluctuates based on the price of oil and supply and demand and likely several other factors. Its worth fluctuates. There are many things that fluctuate – like our net worth. The dollar figure that tells how much money we are worth. Your net worth would likely fluctuate based on the stock market or the housing market or how well your mutual funds are doing, how valuable the Canadian dollar is. Your net worth fluctuates. If you have every been to the Canadian Mint in Ottawa – where they make Canadian coins they have a scale that you can step on and instead of giving you your weight in pounds or kilograms – it gives you what your weight would be worth (a dollar figure) if you were a piece of gold. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “It’s worth its weight in gold” I stepped on to that scale and let me tell you that I’m worth a lot. In fact a lot more than I would like to be. I wouldn’t have minded being more worthless.
As we dive into the Scripture this morning I desire to look not at how much you are worth financially (although Barry might be interested in that with the pledging that is going on) and not at how much commodities fluctuate but rather at what you are worth in Christ – you’re spiritual worth.
A little background to this letter of 2 Corinthians - Paul is trying to combat some false teachers that have tried to confuse the Corinthians about the gospel. These false teachers have tried to convince the Corinthians that Paul is actually the false teacher. So we look at v.11 – Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. When the verse starts with since or therefore it is referring to the text above. And we look at v.10 and Paul had just explained that we will have to stand before the judgement seat of Christ and give an account for the good and the bad things that we have done here in this world. Knowing that we will have to give an account we fear the Lord – we will honour the Lord with our life. And we will not only honour Him with our life but we will try to persuade others to do likewise. Paul here is also trying to persuade the Corinthians about his integrity before the Lord. Paul then explains that we are plain to God or in other words we are well known to God. There is nothing hidden about us before the Lord and Paul hopes that the Corinthians see that he is a man of integrity desiring to serve the Lord on their behave – not trying to mislead. Paul is the real deal – he is genuine. Paul is not trying to peddle the Word of God for profit – there is no hidden agenda. You get what you see – no tricks. Paul is genuinely concerned about their spiritual state in Christ. 2 Cor 1 Paul says, By God’s grace we present the gospel in holiness and sincerity. The Lord knows that Paul is genuine and Paul is trying to convince the Corinthians of that same truth.
v.12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, Paul has boasted in Christ previous to this point in 2 Corinthians a couple times to try and convince the Corinthians of his credibility, but not here. Paul wants to give them an opportunity to share with Him in the battle against the false teachers. We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than what is in the heart. The false teachers are more concerned with the temporary things of this world – the fame, popularity, the money, prestige – whereas Paul is concerned about the heart – the eternal things – reconciling man to God. Paul is only modeling Christ’s example. Jesus was not interested in the things of this world like money, fame, popularity, or power in this world, rather He was concerned with being obedient to His Father in heaven. The Jews wanted a political/military leader type of Saviour who would help them triumph in this world over the Romans. Jesus was not concerned with temporary achievements, rather His sacrifice on the cross yielded eternal benefits for those who put their faith and trust in Him – reconciling man to God.
To Paul…..the heart matters – this world will pass away. 1 John 2:17. Paul is concerned about the Corinthians’ hearts. Are you concerned about the heart? When you see a stranger or someone that you do not know – are you concerned about their heart? When you see someone you know – are you concerned about their heart? I know there are some people in this world who make friends with people or get married because of what they will receive from the relationship whether it social status, money, popularity – not on what they can give. You hear of it on the news with the 80 year old rich man with the 25 yr old girlfriend. She is not concerned about his heart. Or men when you are driving down the road and when you are not checking out the gas prices but checking out the attractive woman walking or jogging down the road – when you do that you are not concerned about her heart. I was told this story first hand of an Athletes in Action missionary who was faced with a dilemma. As you may know missionaries (from AIA) do not draw a salary – their income is supplied by people who give. Jeff Patton from Athletes in Action was supported by one individual for 75% of his income. The dilemma arose when this supporter of his was sinning in a manner that needed to be addressed/confronted. Jeff has a family – a wife and two children that need to be clothed and feed. The best case scenario is that his supporter accepts the timely word/the rebuke and turns back to Christ from his sin. The worst case scenario is that the supporter does not accept the rebuke and pulls his support and Jeff is out of 75% of his income. Put yourself in that position – you may start to think that this man’s sin is not all that important….But Jeff was concerned about this man’s heart and trusted the Lord and confronted his supporter…the heart matters. We need to be looking to minister to each other’s hearts and the hearts that God has placed around us – family members, friends, or strangers. Most importantly where is your heart? Self evaluation based on Scripture is important.
v.13 If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. Paul’s enemies or the false teachers were trying to present Paul as being crazy and unpredictable. One day he is killing all the Christians and the next he is a believer in Christ. A dynamic conversion and many years latter he is still on fire for Christ. So if that is being out of his mind, then it is for Christ. However, Paul’s presentation of the gospel to the Corinthians has been sensible and sober-minded instilling integrity in his message. Paul continues in v.14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. One died for all. Christ died for all. Christ was the only one who could have died for all. He died for all and those who live – which are those who have died with Christ – died to the sinful nature, died to sin in Christ – should live for Christ. This can be a bit confusing so lets look at Roman 6 – For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Let’s also look at the paradox of life and dead presented by Christ in Luke 9 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. Whoever loses his life for me or dies to themselves will save it. This is about surrender and humility that go hand in hand with accepting Jesus as your Saviour. Those who live should live for the one who gave you life. True life comes only through Christ. v.17 is a well known verse, Therefore, based on what he has just said about one dying for all, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! The key to that verse revolves around being in Christ. There is no other way. The only way you can be in Christ is if you in humility surrender your life – die to yourself, take up your cross and follow Him. You put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. You realize that your sin prevents you from entering into the presence of a holy, righteous God. The penalty for your sin is death. So you put your faith in Christ – so that his pure blood will cover your sins. It is at that point that you are made new – you are transformed in Christ. In Christ = new creation. Paul says in v.14 that Christ’s love compels him to live his new life wholehearted for Christ. Because Christ was obedient to his Father and loved his Father and loved us – he took his perfect life, his sinless life, his pure life and sacrificed it for sinful man – b/c of this sacrifice sinful man is united with a holy God. Christ loved us and thought we were worth dying for. When you are in Christ, God now sees that man not in his sin, but in light of the perfect Christ. And this new life/new birth is all from God himself. v.18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore, Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. It is those who have been reconciled in Christ who are the ambassadors. That is an awesome responsibility – to be a representative of Christ. WOW!
God set the standard, provided the way for man to achieve His standard, and invites us to join Him in reconciling others to Himself – it is all about Him. The standard is holiness, righteousness, and perfection and man cannot achieve this on his own. So God in his goodness provided the way for us to be reconciled and that is through Christ. Eph 2 says, because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do. God loved us and thought that we were worthwhile enough that he by grace gave us Christ and made us alive in Christ. You cannot earn, win, or inherit salvation. Salvation comes from God and we who are saved are His workmanship, his ambassador, his special agent to do good works, prepared in advance. God set the standard, provided the way to achieve the standard and invites us to join him. Paul says, We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. We implore you….like we plead with you on Christ’s behalf – because of what Christ went through for you…..it cost him his life – be reconciled to God. If you think that because of all the bad things that you have done in life so far that you do not deserve reconciliation, your right – but none of us deserve it. It is a gift from God. We need to accept the gift.
You are worth it! Christ was sacrificed so that we could be redeemed. Your worth comes from Christ! v.21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. John MacArthur sums this verse up very well, “God the Father using the principle of imputation – and imputation is the heart of the doctrine of justification whereby God declares the repentant sinner righteous and does not count his sins against him because he covers him with the righteousness of Christ the moment he places wholehearted faith in Christ and His sacrificial death. So God using this principle of imputation treated Christ as if He were a sinner though He was not, and had Him die as a substitute to pay the penalty for the sins of those who believe in Him. On the cross, He did not become a sinner (as some suggest), but remained as holy as ever. He was treated as if he were guilty of all the sins ever committed by all who would ever believe, though He committed none. The wrath of God was exhausted on Him and the just requirement of God’s law met for those for whom He died.” Christ was sacrificed so that we could be redeemed.
Let me take you back to the Canadian Mint in Ottawa. In the lobby there a bar of gold that is guarded by an RCMP officer. This bar of gold is about this big and is worth about $240,000. Stamped on the bar of gold is 9999. Which indicates its purity or its worth. It is 99.99% pure. You and I would not be able to tell the difference since it appears to be pure but is not 100% pure. No matter how much they refine the gold, it will never be pure. I know there are many people who are like the 4 9’s bar of gold – they appear to be pure but they are not. These people are unbelievers who are trusting that God is a good God who will be merciful and loving. So they attempt to live like good people, they are moral, their good deeds far out weigh their bad and they are trying to refine themselves. They are right that God is a good God and merciful and loving and that is why he provided Jesus Christ the only way to be truly refined. The 4 9’s people reject Christ and live for themselves. But the Bible is clear that the only way to become pure from our impurity, which is the sin in our lives, is to accept Christ as our Saviour.
If you are already in Christ (stamped pure/a believer) your worth is secure and does not fluctuate like the price of gas, or your financial worth – your spiritual worth is constant and secure. So now the question is are you being a faithful ambassador – are you living wholeheartedly for the one who gave you life? Are looking at people’s hearts – are you being used to reconcile others to Christ. I encourage you to continue to serve Christ wholeheartedly.
If you are not in Christ, if you are not pure, I implore you this morning to surrender your life to Christ, accept the gift that God has given you in Jesus Christ and put your faith in him – so that you will be made pure – cleansed from your impurities and counted as righteous in Christ. Take off the 4 9’s and be stamped “PURE”.
If you would like to surrender your life to Christ right now and put your faith in Christ this morning I ask you to stand now. You may be thinking – you have got to be kidding….in front of all these people. You need to know that these people love you and have prayed for you. In fact there are people here who have been ambassadors to you – this is a safe place. It’s not the standing that converts you, but it is the transformation in your heart that saves and occurs when you surrender to Christ and put your faith in Him. Standing is merely a public declaration of a commitment that you have just made. The fruit of your decision will be evident in the days to come.
Prayer…..worth is in Christ. Look at people’s hearts, may we live for the one who gave his life, may we join you as ambassadors.