January 7, 2007
INTRODUCTION – One of the things that thrilled me as I read and prayed over your prayer sheets Thursday afternoon for the first time was how many of you wanted to be more like Christ and wanted to be used of Him in a greater way.
Well we have come to the point in our series in the gospel of Matthew where we can begin to learn from our Master’s example. Turn with me in Matthew’s gospel to chapter 3 vs. 13. In this short passage we are going to find three things that each of us needs to do or experience to be able to become more like our Savior, and be used by Him in His kingdom work.
As we begin to wade through this gospel we are going to witness the amazing life and ministry of Jesus Christ. What He accomplished in 3 and a half short years is astounding. And now that He is sitting at the right hand of the Father, He wants to continue to live His astounding life and do His astounding work through us.
What we dare not neglect as we seek to allow Him to do this is the preparation for ministry that He himself submitted Himself to. He did not rush right in as soon as He graduated from High school. Jesus Christ was in no hurry. And there are things that He had in place that we must also have in place if we are going to see Him use us in a mighty way in our communities and beyond.
Three foundational things that each of us needs to have in place before we really see the Lord use us in any significant way. Three foundational things that as we begin to grow in them and experience them, I can promise you the Lord will begin to use us in a greater and greater way.
I. Be a righteousness pursuer. Matt. 3:13-15 The possibility of a friendly, but sincere debate (Jesus and John the Baptist). Jesus won it on the basis of their need to fulfill all righteousness. Something which both he and John had a very strong commitment to.
Now theologians have really wrestled with this passage because first of all – John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance and we all know Jesus had no need to repent of anything.
Second there was no law or commandment in the Old Testament about baptism.
What does Jesus mean by fulfilling all righteousness?
I found Dr. Stanley Tousaint’s explanation to be the most helpful. Let me read it to you. P. 72. He states, “…it evidently is a general rule of Christ’s earthly life which refers to His voluntary subjection to the ordinances which belonged to men, whether they were religious or secular. It would be the reason for Christ’s obedience to the Old Testament laws and His subservience to the laws of civil government. Since they were instituted by God, it became Him to obey them in order “to fulfill all righteousness.” Because God had led John to baptize, it was proper for Christ to receive the ordinance at the hands of the Baptist.”
A. Jesus’s example – – before His baptism in the way He submitted to His parents. Here in the way He submitted to baptism. Throughout His next 3 ½ yrs. in the way He related to His mother. Throughout His life in the way He sought to please His Heavenly Father. “He has done all things well.”
Jesus Christ never once – in any situation – rationalized away to the need to be righteous.
Let’s look at Joseph’s example.
B. Joseph’s example – Matt. 1:19
C. Paul commanded Timothy to “pursue righteousness” in ch. 6:11 of his 1st letter 1. 1st obvious application to this is getting baptized. 2. Listening and heeding the Holy Spirit’s nudges about things we watch, eat, words we say, how we deal with conflicts with folk, abiding by the laws of the land
Well I’m still not sure what righteousness is? Righteousness is the act of thinking the right thing, having the right attitude or motive, and/or doing the right thing in response to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
If you are born again by the Holy Spirit of God, you have been implanted with the righteousness of Christ. II Cor. 5:17 says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” Many of you have experienced this. After you were born again things you used to do or say or think – just didn’t seem right to you anymore. Your internal desires began to change.
Vs. 21 says, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
Now this concept of righteousness is going to come up more as we go through Matthew’s gospel, so we will deal with it more then.
II. Be anointed or empowered by the Holy Spirit. Matt. 3:16 A. Jesus’s example – – Many Christians do not seem to understand that Jesus Christ – the Son of God was conceived by the Holy Spirit (Matt. 1:20); Some feel that when the Holy Spirit descends upon Him like a dove (in the passage we are reading today) that He is baptized with the Holy Spirit at that time. At least we can say He is indwelt by the Holy Spirit at that time.; Matt. 4:1 says He waas led by the Holy Spirit; Luke 4:1 says he was full of the Holy Spirit; Luke 4:14 says He was empowered by the Holy Spirit; Luke 4:18 says He was anointed by the Holy Spirit;
In an nutshell you could say of Jesus Christ – the explanation of His amazing life and ministry while on this earth – was His absolute submission to and cooperation with the Holy Spirit.
B. Role of righteousness – Heb. 1:8.9
C. If we as a congregation are going to rise up and fulfill all of the Lord’s destiny and calling on us in 2007 we are going to have to learn to submit to and cooperate more with the Holy Spirit. We can do nothing without Him. We can do anything with Him.
“Be a righteousness pursuer” “Be anointed or empowered by the Holy Spirit”
III. Be Secure in the Father’s Love and Approval. Matt. 3:17 What is significant to me about this statement from God the Father is Jesus had no accomplished anything by this point. His ministry had not started.
A. Jesus’s example & the role it played As a man, He was able to endure tremendous rejection, slander, and hostility because He knew God loved Him and was committed to Him.
I believe Jesus Christ spent His first 30 years of life cultivating an intimate relationship with
His Father. I realize He had existed with Him and the Holy Spirit for all of eternity. But as a man He had to start fresh.
B. How important this is for us – If God is going to mightily use us in the lives of all kinds of people, we must get to the place where their rejection and hostility and meanness does not translate into “God must not love me.” You see the enemy knows the joy of the Lord is our strength; He knows how absolutely transforming it is for one of God’s sons and daughters to realize how much God loves them. So He is constantly looking for ways to convince us otherwise.
C. Steps Towards: 1. Study the doctrine of adoption in the new testament. Rom. 8 & Eph. 1 & Gal. 4
2. Shepherds need to pray this for their people – Eph. 3:16-19
3. Give yourself to one anothering ministry or fellowship – Eph. 3:16-19
4. Memorize verses on the subject – Jer. 31:3 “Yea I have loved you…; Gal. 2:20 “For I have been
Psalm 40:5 “Many O Lord my God are the wonders which You have done, And Your thoughts towards us; There is none to compare with You. If I would declare and speak of them, They would be too numerous to count.” Psalm 139:17,18 “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You.”
Isa. 54:10 “For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, but my lovingkindness will not be removed from you, And my convenant of peace will not be shaken says the Lord who has compassion on you.”
Micah 7:18 “Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity And passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in unchanging love…”
Rom. 5:8 But God demonstrates His..