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Romans Series #9
Text: Romans 1:15
Subject: Consecration to Christ
Date: Sunday Evening — April 6, 2014
Reading: Lindsay Campbell and Mark Henson
The title of my message is “Ready.” In Romans 1:15, the Apostle Paul said, “I am ready to preach the Gospel.” In those words, God the Holy Spirit shows us the devotion and consecration of that faithful man to the Lord Jesus Christ. — “Ready” — That is the title of my message. — “I am ready to preach the Gospel!”
Many years ago, I read a story about a young communist. This young man left one of our eastern universities and traveled to Mexico to labor among the people and spread communism. This was back in the 1970s. He wrote to his fiancée, breaking off their engagement, with this explanation. He wrote…
“There is one thing about which I am in dead earnest, and that is the cause of communism. It is my life, my business, my hobby, my sweetheart, my family, my bread, and my drink. I work at it in the daytime, and dream of it at night. Its hold on me grows, not lessens, as time goes by. I cannot carry on a friendship, a love affair, or a conversation without relating it to the cause of communism, which drives and guides my life. I evaluate people, books, ideas, and actions according to their attitude toward communism. I am ready to die for communism!”
Find me someone who has the same attitude toward the Lord Jesus Christ as that young man had toward communism, and I will show you a person who knows God. Children of God, you and I ought to be so fully consecrated, dedicated, and submissive to Christ that we can truthfully say of Christ what that young man said of communism…
“There is one thing about which I am in dead earnest, and that is the cause of Christ. Christ is my life, my business, my hobby, my sweetheart, my family, my bread, and my drink. I work for him in the daytime, and dream of him at night. His hold on me grows, not lessens as time goes by. I cannot carry on a friendship, a love affair, or a conversation, without relating it to Christ, who drives and guides my life. I evaluate people, books, ideas, and actions according to their attitude toward Christ. I am ready to die for Christ.”
Calling for Consecration
I am calling for consecration to Christ, whole-hearted consecration to Christ. I do not suggest that a man should quit his job, forsake his family and all earthly responsibilities, and retire to a monastery. That would be contrary both to the spirit and the letter of Holy Scripture. But I do say that every true believer must be dedicated and consecrated to the cause of Christ, so fully submissive to Christ, to his will, his glory, and his cause that everything else becomes secondary and insignificant.
For most religious people the worship of Christ, the Gospel of Christ, the Church of Christ, and the cause of Christ, at best, are only matters of secondary importance. But for the true believer Christ is more than the most important thing in his life. — Christ is his Life.
Is this not what our Lord said (Matthew 10:37-39; Luke 14:26-27, 33)?
Matthew 10:37-39 (37) He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (38) And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. (39) He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
Luke 14:25-33 (25) And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, (26) If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. (27) And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. (28) For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? (29) Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, (30) Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. (31) Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? (32) Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. (33) So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
Spurgeon said this: — “No man has truly given himself to Christ unless he has said, ‘My Lord, I give thee this day my body, my soul, my powers, my talents, my goods, my house, my children, and all that I have. Henceforth, I hold them at thy will, as a steward under thee. Thine they are. As for me, I have nothing. I have surrendered all to thee.’”
Is it not most reasonable that I should give myself and all that I possess to him? Is it not the most reasonable thing in the world for you to do the same?
Romans 12:1-2 (1) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (2) And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
This is the spirit and attitude which I find displayed in the lives of our Lord’s disciples and in the ministry of the early Church. They were men and women so zealously committed to Christ and to one another that they soon turned the world upside down. Those men and women lived for Christ; and they died for Christ. Everywhere they went, they bore witness to Christ. In everything they did, they served Christ.
And, certainly, this spirit of devotion, dedication, and consecration to Christ was evidently set forth in the life and ministry of the apostle Paul. The Lord Jesus Christ had no sooner called to him out of heaven, saying, “Saul, Saul, why persecutes thou me?” than he answered, “Who art thou, Lord?” Almost immediately after that, his question was, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” Paul was a man, in all circumstances, at all cost, ready to do Christ’s bidding. Throughout his life, whatever happened to him, he was ready. He was ready to serve, ready to suffer, ready to sacrifice, ready to preach, and ready to die for Christ. As we sing, he really was –
Ready to go, ready to stay,
Ready my place to fill:
Ready to serve my Master so great,
Ready to do His will.
Ready to Serve
Paul was ready to serve Christ. He said, “As much as in me is, I am ready to preach the Gospel to you that are at Rome also” (Romans 1:15).
Paul had spent his days, all the days of his life since he was converted, preaching the Gospel. But he was ready to preach at Rome also. If God in providence would make the opportunity, Paul was ready to seize it, no matter the cost, no matter the danger.
But that is not all. Paul was ready to serve Christ in any capacity, at any place, for any purpose which the Lord might allow. He was “ready to every good work.”
Illustration: Two Angels
My friends, should we not be ready to serve Christ in any capacity? We should count it a privilege to give or do anything for the cause of Christ, for the furtherance of the Gospel, or for the good of God’s people. Let us be ready and willing to serve our Master, willing to do anything God will allow us to do for his glory.
Ready to Come
Look at 2nd Corinthians 12:14. Paul was ready to come to Corinth, to set things in order in a terribly disorderly congregation.
2 Corinthians 12:14-19 (14) Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. (15) And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved. (16) But be it so, I did not burden you: nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile. (17) Did I make a gain of you by any of them whom I sent unto you? (18) I desired Titus, and with him I sent a brother. Did Titus make a gain of you? walked we not in the same spirit? walked we not in the same steps? (19) Again, think ye that we excuse ourselves unto you? we speak before God in Christ: but we do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying.
God’s servants do not use God’s people to serve themselves. They give their lives to the service of your souls, ready to go anywhere, at any cost, if they can be of service to eternity bound souls.
I read yesterday about a Moravian, back in 1750 (I think it was), who was asked by Nicholas Zinzendorf if he might be willing to go to Greenland to preach the Gospel. The man had never heard of Greenland before; but seizing the opportunity, he answered, “Yes, sir.” “When will you go?” Zinzendorf asked. “When my boots come home from the cobbler.” And as soon as his boots came home he was off to Greenland!
Ready to Suffer
Paul was ready to suffer for Christ. He said, “I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13). In order to do the will of God, in order to bring honor and glory to Christ, in order to benefit the people of God, in order to preach the Gospel of the grace of God, Paul was ready to suffer anything, even death itself. (Read Acts 20:22-25).
Acts 20:22-25 (22) And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: (23) Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. (24) But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. (25) And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.
In the next chapter, while Paul and his companions were at Philip the evangelist’s house, a prophet named Agabus stopped by. Look at Acts 21:11-13.
Acts 21:11-13 (11) And when he was come unto us, he took Paul's girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles. (12) And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem. (13) Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.
Ready to Sacrifice
Paul was ready to sacrifice anything for Christ. For the glory of God, for the good of the Church, for the furtherance of the Gospel, Paul was ready to sacrifice anything, even his own life (2 Timothy 4:6-8).
2 Timothy 4:6-8 (6) For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. (7) I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: (8) Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
When Paul’s life was over, and the time of his departure was at hand, he was ready to lay down his life for Christ. He had finished his course; and he was ready to die.
Is this spirit and attitude to be found in us? This is the thing I am calling for. I want us to give ourselves individually and collectively to the Lord Jesus Christ. I want us to be in dead earnest about the cause of Christ.
Proposition: Every child of God should be utterly consecrated to Christ, dedicated to his service, committed to his glory, and ready to give, do, sacrifice, suffer, and endure anything for him.
I want to do what I can to motivate and inspire in my heart and yours this kind of dedication.
Illustration: “Is there not a cause?
(1 Samuel 17:29).
Divisions: Here are five things that make me think as I do, do what I do, and preach as I preach.
First, I am driven and motivated by a true, earnest compassion for the souls of men. As Paul put it, “The love of Christ constraineth us!” As God is my witness, I am not in this business of preaching for personal gain or for personal interests (2 Corinthians 2:17; 4:5).
2 Corinthians 2:17 For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.
“The love of Christ constraineth us.” — Our Lord was a real man; and as such, he had a real compassion for the souls of men. (The Rich Young Ruler, Jerusalem). And those who truly belong to Christ have a real compassion for men.
I know that men and women are perishing for the want of knowledge, and that all must appear before the judgment bar of God.
2 Corinthians 5:11-21 (11) Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences. (12) For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart. (13) For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause. (14) For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: (15) And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. (16) Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. (17) Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (18) And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; (19) To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. (20) Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. (21) For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
I want you to know the one true and living God (John 17:3).
· God is sovereign.
· God is just.
· God is gracious.
I want you to know the Lord Jesus Christ.
· Who is he?
· What has he done?
· Where is he now?
There is no salvation apart from this knowledge of God in Christ. Eternal life is to know him. And the only way any man will ever come to know him is by Divine revelation (Matthew 16:16-18).
Second, I am motivated and driven by a real conviction that the Gospel of God’s free and sovereign grace in Christ is the truth of God (Romans 1:1-4; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
Romans 1:1-4 (1) Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, (2) (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) (3) Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; (4) And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.
1 Corinthians 15:1-4 (1) Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; (2) By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. (3) For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; (4) And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
I repeat myself deliberately. There is but one Gospel.
The Gospel of the grace of God addresses three issues and answers three vital questions.
The Gospel of God declares that…
Third, I am driven, motivated, and inspired by a Divine commission to preach the Gospel (Ezekiel 33:7-11).
Ezekiel 33:7-11 (7) So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me. (8) When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. (9) Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. (10) Therefore, O thou son of man, speak unto the house of Israel; Thus ye speak, saying, If our transgressions and our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live? (11) Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
It is true, I am ordained of God as the primary spokesman of our assembly. It is my responsibility. But the commission to preach the Gospel extends to every believer. There is but one reason for our existence as a church. — We are here to preach the Gospel (Matthew 28:18-20).
Matthew 28:18-20 (18) And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. (19) Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: (20) Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Fourth, I am driven, and motivated, and inspired by a commitment which I have made to the Lord (1 Corinthians 9:16-17).
1 Corinthians 9:16-17 (16) For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! (17) For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.
“I have opened my mouth to the Lord, and I cannot go back” (Judges 11:35). — I am committed to this work, this blessed work of preaching the Gospel of Christ. I am consecrated to this one blessed task. I am dedicated to making known unto all men the manifold wisdom of God in salvation. I cannot and will not compromise one iota of that blessed Gospel truth which God has revealed to my heart.
· Either God is absolutely sovereign, or he is not God.
· Either God has an elect people whom he chose in Christ before the world began, or he has no people.
· Either Christ has effectually redeemed all of God’s elect, or he has failed in his work.
· Either God the Holy Spirit regenerates and calls God’s elect to Christ by sovereign, irresistible power, or man is his own savior.
· Either all of God’s elect will persevere in faith unto the end, or they will all perish!
Fifth, I am driven, motivated, and inspired in this matter of preaching the glorious Gospel of Christ, because a worthy cause has gripped my heart; and that cause is the glory of God!
With Paul I say, “I am ready!” — Ready to serve. Ready to suffer. Ready to sacrifice. Ready to live. Ready to preach. Ready to die. — For Christ’s sake. — For the glory of God! What about you?
We all talk a great deal; but talk is cheap. I am calling upon you “to prove the sincerity of your love!”
“In all my Lord’s appointed ways
My journey I’ll pursue;
Hinder me not! Ye much loved saints,
For I must go with you.
Through floods and flames, if Jesus lead,
I’ll follow where He goes;
Hinder me not! Shall be my cry,
Though earth and hell oppose.
Through duty, and through trials too,
I’ll go at His command;
Hinder me not! For I am bound
To my Immanuel’s land.
And when my Savior calls me home,
Still this my cry shall be,
Hinder me not! Come, welcome death;
I’ll gladly go with Thee!”
To you who are ready to perish (Proverbs 31:6), we preach a Redeemer and God ready to save (Isaiah 38:20).
“Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity joined with power:
He is able, He is able, He is able,
He is willing; doubt no more.
Come, ye needy, come and welcome,
God’s free bounty, glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings you nigh.
Without money, without money, without money,
Come to Jesus Christ and buy.
Come, ye weary, heavy laden,
Bruised and broken by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all:
Not the righteous, not the righteous, not the righteous,
Sinners Jesus came to call.
Let not conscience make you linger,
Nor of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him;
This He gives you, this He gives you, this He gives you;
‘Tis the Spirit’s rising beam.
Lo! th’ incarnate God, ascended,
Pleads the merit of His blood;
Venture on Him, venture wholly,
Let no other trust intrude.
None but Jesus, none but Jesus, none but Jesus,
Can do helpless sinners good.”
· Come to Christ! O Spirit of God, cause poor sinners now to come to Christ!
· Give yourself to Christ! O Spirit of God cause us, each of us, constantly, with ever increasing consecration, to give ourselves to Christ.
Corinthians 6:9-11 (9) Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?
Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor
effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, (10) Nor thieves,
nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit
the kingdom of God. (11) And such were some of you: but ye are washed,
but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus,
and by the Spirit of our God.