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. Living an abundant Christian life

LIVING AN ABUNDANT CHRISTIAN LIFE

1 Corinthians 15:58 (ESV) 58Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.”

Introduction.

This is day 87 of lockdown and a few things regarding Logos has come to my mind. Let me give direction to this sermon by sharing with you of a saying my principal at Seminary always said. He would walk into the class and say: “Where have you come from, where are you now, and where are you going?” He never elaborated, he left us to fill in the blanks. It is always helpful to take stock. It increases our gratitude; it increases our joy and it increases our commitment to the future. So often when we consider ‘now’ we are become despondent, but then we think back to where we came from and suddenly, we realize just how blessed we are. That in itself invokes energy for the future.

I often sit wondering what Logos is going to look like after lockdown. Are we all going to be back, or will some start living their lives without a thought for the gathered church and stay away out of habit? Or, are we going to show greater commitment to worship? Are we going to put our shoulder to the wheel collectively, and work hard for a great future? Are we going to coast or are we going to run the race set before us?

Jesus said in John 10:10 (ESV) “… I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

Michael prayed and thanked the Lord that I care for the body which is evident in my devotions. That is true, but it is even more than that. I want you to sit under the word daily, and that you will learn a spiritual radical steadfastness which will keep us going into the future. I think 15 minutes a day for the Lord is no sacrifice at all.

In the text before us, Paul’s heart is ‘where are you now’, ignoring where have you come from and where are you going. By implication he knows that where you are now is going to determine where you are going. He says: 58Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.”

That little word always, says a lot, doesn’t it? So, Christ gives us life abundantly, and Paul speaks about you living abundantly by “always abounding”. That means to without end, continuously, uninterruptedly, giving yourself fully to the Lord. Is this what we are going to see at Logos when we return.

Now remember that Paul is not writing these words to us void of context. He has just spent most of 1 Corinthians 15 to remind us that we serve a risen Saviour. He starts verse 58 with the word ‘therefore’ and therefore is linked to the previous verses talking about the power of the resurrection and the joy of serving a risen Saviour.

  1. He tells us in verse 14 that because Christ is raised from the dead preaching has a glorious eternal purpose, because if Christ were not raised preaching would be in vain. That is why I am committed to teaching the Word of God, no matter how complicated it is that we can grow thereby. Friends we need to be into Spiritual T-bone steaks. Time to leave the milk of the Word behind.
  2. He also tells us in verse 14 that because Christ is raised from the dead our faith is secure. If Christ were not raised from the dead our faith would be in vain.
  3. In verse 15 we see that because Christ is raised from the dead, we are true representatives of Jesus Christ. If Christ were not raised, we would be misrepresenting God.
  4. He tells us in verse 16-17 that because Christ is raised from the dead our sins are forgiven. If Christ were not raised, we would still be in our sins.
  5. He tells us in verse 18 that because Christ is raised from the dead we graduate to glory when we die. If Christ were not raised there is no resurrection of the dead.
  6. He tells us in verse 19 that because Christ is raised from the dead, we are of all people most to be envied. If Christ were not raised, we are of all people most to be pitied.

The joy for every believer is that verse 20 tells us that “Christ is risen indeed”.

So as a believer, you are in a position of high victory because death is defeated and it is from this position that Paul says to us today, 58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.” So, it is with gratitude to the resurrection power of our Lord Jesus Christ, that we can look at verse 58 and embrace its truth now and forever.

Let me break this text into logical segments for a few moments and I trust that the Lord will use it in our lives today and into the future. I pray that the Holy Spirit will fill in the gaps by applying the word to your heart. Paul has three things to say to us namely:

Firstly: Be steadfast.

58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast,” Some translations actually say: “stand firm”.  Let me just point out that Paul is talking to us as fellow believers, which is why he can say ‘my beloved brothers’. In context that means all of us not just the men. He is speaking to those who are in Christ. Paul is discussing a lifelong process of living in Christ, a ‘now and forever process.’ I prefer the translation ‘be steadfast’ as it is in our text instead of ‘stand firm’ as the Greek word (hedraios) actually means to be seated.

So what Paul is saying to us is this. Do not move away from the seat of the security you have in the completed work of Christ through His resurrection. Be steadfast, hold fast to it, stand firm, sit tight, keep your seat,  don’t move, Jesus is risen and our hope, our faith and our labour is secure in nothing else than where we are seated. Do not let lockdown and the Corona virus unsettle you. As soon as we can come together again, you simply continue in your steadfastness. That is why the Hebrew writer can say in Hebrews 10:23 (ESV) “23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”

Logos family, we must not grow tired or weary in our service to Him, we cannot let lockdown develop a complacency in us. He who promised is faithful, are we? You must live now for eternity.

Secondly: Be immovable.

Paul continues and says: 58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable,” or ‘let nothing move you’. At first glance, we would be tempted to think that "being steadfast" and being "immovable" mean the same thing, but there are some key differences between the two.

‘Being steadfast,’ or ‘sitting tight’, emphasizes the aspect of steadiness, while ‘being immovable’ emphasizes the aspect of faith that will not be shaken even in the worst of circumstances, even circumstances like we are in now. In Acts 27:41, the same Greek word is used to describe the condition of the boat Paul was on after it struck the reef and ran aground. It was immovable because no matter what they did, it would not budge.

This same word should be able to be used about the character and faith of any individual Christian today. Paul says of the Galatians in Galatians 1:6 (ESV) 6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—“ Paul's amazement for these Galatian believers should come as no surprise, for his command is that Christians be immovable, yet these Christians in Galatia were not only movable, but surprisingly easy to move. They were knocked around by false teaching. Is this true of us today? If it is, we should work on living out the command of being immovable.

This leads us to our last point.

Thirdly: Always abounding in the work of the Lord,

The NIV says: “Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord.”

After exhorting the Corinthians to remain fixed and steady in Christ, Paul then exhorts them further to do the work of the Lord in an abundant way. ‘Always abounding’. The root word for ‘abounding’ is (perisseuo) and it is such a rich word. It means to ‘exceed’, or ‘to do over and above’, or ‘to do exceedingly’ or to ‘excel’, or my version ‘going the extra mile for God’.

It carries with it the idea of going beyond that which is ordinary. It is a surpassing quality or quantity, depending on context. Here, not only are the Corinthians (and us) exhorted to go beyond ordinary standards in working for Christ, but ALWAYS to go beyond that standard. There are too many believers who simply do what is expected and too few who go beyond.

Going beyond should not be something that happens now and then, it should happen daily. Also, we are not called to number or measure the work we do for God, we just abound in it, and always! Was there a time in your life where you were abounding, but now you stagnated? Why is it that Christians will so easily apply the best standard in the world, and for the world, but not for Christ? When it comes to the world, only the best is acceptable, but when it comes to Christ the standards have to be dropped. The world expects quality, the world expects punctuality, the world expects hard work and endurance, and the world expects excellence –

WHY CAN CHRIST NOT GET THE SAME?

I believe that when it comes to the things of God, the standards should be raised. If I can do neat work for the world, I must do perfect work for Christ, if I am on time for the world, I am 10 minutes early for Christ, if I work long hours for the world, I work longer for the Lord, if I excel for the world, I super-excel for the Lord, if I can watch TV and read books and attend seminars on all kinds of topics, why do we get bored with the Word of God?

We have something to prove fellow Christian. James says in James 1:22 and I am reading from the NASB: 22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. Let us prove ourselves church family, abundantly and always, to be workers of the Lord. This is our commandment and our goal in life. You must know what the work of the Lord is to do it, and you find out what it is in the Word of God. Yet, it is not simply enough to know. We must know, and then do -- abundantly and always. Why? Because through Jesus Christ we can have victory over death, and we know “that our labour in the Lord is not in vain.”

One thing we know when we work for God is that we are working for the best purpose we could ever find. There is no greater enterprise than the Kingdom of God. It is a spiritual purpose, it is an eternal purpose, and it is a Godly purpose. I cannot help but be reminded of the following verse which shows Paul’s attitude towards the work of the Lord. 2 Timothy 1:12 (ESV) 12 which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.”

Work for God will never be forgotten, and the reward can never be equalled on earth. What is that reward? Eternal life. Why should we work for the Lord again? Because through Jesus Christ we can have victory over death. 1 Corinthians 15:58 should instruct each of us concerning our lives and give us a God-given measuring stick by which we can examine ourselves to see how we are doing in the faith.

Can I ask you three simple questions in closing?

  1. Where have you come from? – Lost, damned, dead in sin, condemned – right?
  2. Where are you now? – A resurrection person, in Christ, living in high victory, seated in Christ, sitting tight, firmly established, abounding in the work of the Lord – right?
  3. Where are you going? Can I challenge you to become an ‘as now, always person’? And your standards are not where it should be now, I trust that you will raise the bar from this day forward and beyond.

Work harder for Christ, work smarter for Christ, work better for Christ, be more punctual for Christ, give more for the work of Christ, abound, abound, abound. And know this, ‘that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.’

Amen!

Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Community Church – 21 June 2020