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April 17, 2022
Always Abounding
Pastor Philip De Courcy
Time:
1 Corinthians 15:58
Scripture: 
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Transcript

So if you’ve got a copy of God’s word, we invite you to open it. If you don’t, listen along. I’m going to speak this morning on the subject, Always Abounding. Always Abounding, and we’re going to look at First Corinthians 15, verse 50. As I thought about an appropriate text for Easter Sunday morning, here it is. In fact, we’ll break back into verse 57. This is the great chapter on the resurrection. Paul has confessed the truth of the resurrection in this chapter. He has confirmed it and defended it and shown its importance and he has celebrated it and he calls us to celebrate it. Look at verse 57, “But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” But He wants us not only to believe in it, but to be transformed by it. So listen to verse 58, “Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
That’s our text. Always Abounding. Calvin Coolidge was the 30th President of the United States. He was an extremely quiet man, reserved to a fault. He had a very kind of flat personality. He had a tendency to say no more than two to three words in answer to any question posed to him. So he got nicknamed, “Silent Cal.” In fact, there’s a famous story of a man who bet his friends that he could get President Coolidge to say more than two words, and so he approached the president and he said, “You know what, sir? I wanted to be honest. I bet my friends that I can get you to say more than two words.” To which the President replied, “You lose.” That’s just who he was. You know, a flat, dead pun personality. In fact, some people argued that he was weaned on dill pickle juice when he was a child.
In 1933, upon his death, the radio airwaves were filled with the news of Calvin Coolidge’s death. The columnist Dorothy Parker was in her office in New York City when a colleague came running into her office and blurted, “Dotty, did you hear President Coolidge’s dead?” To which he famously replied, “How do they know?” That’s terrible, isn’t it? How do they know? Joking aside, it’s a sad thing. It’s a sad thing if you cannot tell if someone is dead or alive, if they’ve got a pulse. Now by contrast, I would make an argument that it should be easy to tell or spot the Christian because the Christian is someone wide awake to life. The Christian is someone alive to life because for the Christian, Christ through his life is alive in them. They’ve been born again unto a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, or as Paul says in Colossians one, verse 24, “Christ in us, the living Christ indwelling us the hope of glory.”
There is Christianity in a sentence and that makes the Christian irrepressible. Nothing holds the Christian back, nothing holds the Christian down because they believe, on that first Easter Sunday morning, Christ stood up in the midst of death. In fact, that’s what the word resurrection means, to stand up, and Christ stood up amidst the dead and declared himself alive, and that changed everything in history and it changes the story of those who, within history, joined their story to Christ’s story. For the Christian, life is forever brimming over with hope, joy, peace and meaning and purpose. I hope that describes you this morning and if you’re not a Christian, I can tell you in the authority of God’s word, you can leave this morning, enjoying that reality if you’ll repent of your sin and put your faith in Jesus Christ and surrender to his lordship over life.
We had an old man in our first church in Northern Ireland and Mr. Andrews who used to pray, “Lord, keep me alive until I’m dead.” It’s a great little prayer. See, that’s the prayer, the Christian prayers. The Christian can’t afford not to be living to the max because they have the power of the risen Christ at work in them, causing them to embrace life and to live it wide awake. So I want to come to kind of undergird and underscore all that I’ve just said, and I want to come the first Corinthians 15:50 because that’s what Paul is getting across. He says, “Look, if you believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ”, which he has argued throughout this chapter as we’ve said, he’s confessed it, confirmed it and celebrated it. He says, “If you believe it, then you’re going to be transformed by it.”
This isn’t just something that you believe in a creed. This is something you live each and every day of your life, belief affects, behavior. So he says, “If you really believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and His physical resurrection, then it’ll be worked out in your life in this way: be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord because you know, in the light of His resurrection, anything you do for Him is not in vain.” It’s not empty, it’s not purposeless, it’s not meaninglessness. Have you noticed so much meaninglessness now in our culture? We need the message of Easter. That’s what Paul’s out here. Let me just reinforce that verse 58 and the first word, “Therefore,” that’s a word that means, “consequently”. So then Paul’s been running his myth off about the resurrection for 57 verses and then boom, consequently, this is what I want you to take home.
Given all that I’ve said, this is what I must say. If Jesus has risen, then be steadfast, irrepressible, working for the purpose of the kingdom, knowing that it’s an everlasting kingdom and anything you do is not in vain. Adrian Warnock says this, “A Christian is someone who believes in the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ and lives in the light of the implication of the event.” It’s a good statement. Now, there’s three implications in our text. If you’re taking notes, Paul says, “In the light of Jesus’ physical resurrection on the third day,” because remember he tells us early in this chapter that Christ died for our sin according to God’s word. Then He was buried and the third day, He rose again, according to God’s word. “If you live in the light of the implication of that event, be established, be enthused, be expectant.” I hope that’s what describes you this Easter Sunday morning.
Let’s look at the text. “Be established.” The reality of the resurrection makes the Christian steadfast and immovable. The fact that death has been disarmed by Christ arms us with a weapon to fight discouragement within and opposition without. Paul says here, “Be steadfast.” I think that means be steadfast in your commitment to the gospel truth of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. We have confirmed it and we want to celebrate it and we must commit ourselves to it because the doctrine of the resurrection, even in Paul’s day, as is ours, was under attack. There were those who denied that Jesus was raised from the dead and Paul addresses that. In fact, he does a little bit of counterfactual history. He says, “Imagine that’s true. Imagine our enemies are right then. You know what? We’re still in our sin. Our faith is empty. Preaching is just hot air. Our loved ones are still dead.
And you know what? If we’re suffering for the sake of the gospel, which is a myth and not true, then we are to be pitied.” But you know what? Christ is risen and there’s evidence of that. There’s an empty tomb. There’s hundreds of witnesses. There’s the change in his disciples, so on and so forth, and if that’s true, then don’t be moved and don’t be shaken by the arguments of your enemies. The resurrection is a settled matter. But here’s the point you and I have got to really take home with us. The wonderful thing was as they kept the truth of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ as a living belief among them, it promised to keep them from fits of despair, apathy and anxiety. They could be steadfast as they were steadfast in their commitment to the doctrine of the resurrection. See, nothing should shake the Christian.
Nothing should knock us off our balance. Nothing should cause us to surrender to it in hopelessness because we can be steadfast, unmovable given the hope of the resurrection because if it’s true and we believe it to be true, it opens the gate to a steady march forward into a promising future. Proverbs 4:18, “The path of the just is as a bright light that shines brighter and brighter until the perfect day.” Second Corinthians 3:18. “Here’s the Christian experience, one experience of glory followed by another experience of glory, followed by another experience of glory until we’re actually in glory, which is a never ending experience of glory.” See, that’s our future. Glory, glory, hallelujah, and if that’s true, then there’s no stepping back. There’s no falling over. There’s no surrendering to despair. Few things more readily promote stability than the assurance of eventual victory.
Let me say that again. Few things more readily promote stability in life than the assurance of eventual victory. You can stick anything, can’t you? If you know in the end, you win. You can go through anything, if you know, in the end, that goes away and you’re on top of it. Look, I had the joy of being at the Rose Bowl this year for a couple of reasons. One, it was the joy because my father was with me. His first American football game was a whopper to go to. He said, “This isn’t a football game. This is a spectacle.” That’s what he said. It was a joy because Ohio State won. We beat Utah. Although for three quarters, it didn’t look like that was going to happen, and I went through the spectrum of emotions. My head was down. I was shouting at Ryan Day for calling a call that didn’t work the last time.
It’s not going to work this time and oh, no, no, no when, and our team just seemed to be lethargic. But then man, something changed and in the latter half of the third quarter into the fourth, we just took off and smashed Utah. Then I went home later that night, exhausted emotionally, and I watched the recording of the game on my easy chair with a smile on my face and I could watch the first and second and part of the third quarter. Guess what, I knew the eventual outcome and it affected me emotionally, a whole different experience when I knew the eventual outcome, and that’s the point Paul is making. Few things more readily promised stability than the assurance of eventual victory. Now we know that Christ has been victorious over death, that Christ has promised us victory, look at verse 57, “But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus.”
If we have the victory, and by the way, we’re not working for victory as Christians, we’re working from victory towards victory, then we can stick the muddy middle. We’re in the middle of the story. When you know the third quarter, things aren’t looking good, but you know what, we can be steadfast because we know the eventual outcome.
In fact, let me just drill down into this for a moment or two. The word steadfast is a word that comes from a Greek word that means chair or seat. There you are sitting on your chair, you’re fixed in place, you’re steadfast. At least you are. Your kids, you’re having to kneel them to the chair, but that’s the idea. It speaks of remaining seated being firmly fixed in place, we talk about someone planting themselves in a seat. And when I’ve been away most of the day, it’s been a busy day, there’s a leather easy chair in our house known as the throne, and I sit on it and when I come in, I just plop down. I plant myself on that seat and I ring a bell and June brings me my dinner. No, no, no. That was a dream I had.
She actually does it quite often. She’s a great woman, but that’s the point. That’s our word. This word steadfast comes from a word meaning seat or chair. See, here’s the question. Taking Paul’s words here, “Be steadfast and immovable.” How can we remain seated, fixed in our place when everything around us is shaking, when either our personal life or our national life or we look out on the world and it’s so unsettling, it rattles ours, but you and I can remain seated so to speak, metaphorically, we can be at peace, we can be unmoved, we can be fixed because Christ has risen and Christ has not only risen, he’s exalted and Christ is not only exalted what is he? He’s seated. If you look at Mark 16 verse 19 or look at Luke 22:69 or Hebrews one, verse 3, it speaks about Christ being seated.
Take the text in. Hebrews 1:3, it says, “After he purged our sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on High. I tell you what he’s doing, according to Psalm 110 verse 1, he’s presiding over history to its conclusion when all his enemies will be put under his feet. In fact, Paul talks about that in this very chapter. He says in verse 24, “Then comes the end when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when he puts to an end all the rule and authority and power, he must reign until he has put all enemies under his feet, the last enemy being death. Christ is seated at the right hand of the Majesty on High presiding over history. And you know what? By the end of history, all his enemies, all of God’s enemies, all those who have bullied and persecuted, the church will be put under his feet.
You know what, when you look out on our world? It all seems to be falling apart. Russia is rising. China’s a menace, Jerusalem’s on fire. Morally, the west, especially, it’s the days of Lot and Noah. Lawlessness and sexual perversion, and yet you know what? That’s only a sample. We could talk about globalism and money markets and all of that. In one sense it’s all falling apart, but in another sense it’s all coming together because all of that’s talked about in the Bible in prophecy. And Jesus is at the right hand of God putting his enemies under his feet and someday he’s going to come in power and glory, he’s going to get up off the seat and come and power and glory with the armies of heaven. He’s presiding, he’s praying. Romans 8 verse 34, Romans 8, verse 34, that he is passed to the heavens for us.
He’s at the right hand of God making intercession for us. He wants you to come and all your brokenness with all your burdens. He wants you to share that with him because he lived your life, faced your temptations, died in your place, opened up the opportunity for you to know God through faith in him and he sits on a throne of grace. What an image that he’s grace. He wants to favor you. He wants to bless you through his brokenness in your brokenness and you can come and talk to him. See the Bible’s the only book that you get to read and talk to its author right away. When you read the Bible, you can end up in a conversation with the Christ who’s talked about in the Bible. Not only is he presiding, not only is he praying he’s providing because the amazing thing is Ephesians 1:3 and Ephesians 2:6, we are seated with Christ in the heavenlies.
He’s seated and through our union with him all that he is and all that he’s enjoying and his victory won. All the benefits of that can be ours and whatever we need to live life, he will provide. He’ll provide the strength when we’re weak, he’ll provide wisdom when we’re confused, he’ll provide victory on the verge of defeat. You can remain seated because Christ is seated.
In 1993, I came out to the Shepherd’s Conference at Grace Community Church with John MacArthur. John, just a few months earlier had actually come to Northern Ireland and preached for me and out of his kindness, he invited me to come and stay with him and attend the Shepherd’s Conference and it was memorable for several reasons. The preaching, the music, the company of thousands of godly men. On that particular Sunday afternoon, we were sitting after Vaspers and having lunch in the gym and it was two things I remembered about that lunch. We were seated at a table. I was with several pastors I didn’t know, one of them was from Texas and he asked me the strangest question I think I’ve ever been asked. He said, “Are there any automobiles in Ireland?”
Now, this wasn’t 1893, this was 1993. I said, “Buddy, you got to stop watching The Quiet Man, with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara or whatever her name was. Yeah, we have good automobiles. Do you have any schools in Texas?” No, I didn’t ask him that, but I was thinking that. But there was another thing I remember. This is the point of the story. There was an earthquake. That was the Sunday aftershock after the Northridge earthquake, if you remember. In fact, they weren’t sure if they were going to do the conference because of the tragedy of the Northridge earthquake, but that afternoon we are sitting and there was an aftershock. It was something like an 8.0 or an 8.5. It was a big deal. And I think it was kind of a rolling earthquake, and so I felt my seat going up and down the spoon on my saucer began to kind of bounce.
I actually thought I saw the wall ripple and all I heard was the screech of chairs as everybody outside of the state of California headed for the doors in object panic. Now, I didn’t know what to do, so I’m about two tables away from John MacArthur who was my host. I was staying with him and Patricia and I just came to this conclusion. If he runs, I run. If he sits, I sit. I’m going down with MacArthur. John never budged. He just sat there and kind of took it as it came and it kind of rolled away, thankfully. Oh my friend, whatever the emergency in your life as a Christian, you can remain seated while everybody else is heading for the exits because Christ is seated, presiding, praying, providing. Don’t you love what Paul said in Acts 20:23 to 24? “You know what? I’m going to go into many cities and chains and tribulation are await me.” Then what did he say? “But none of those things move me.”
None of those things move me. Yeah, he’s steadfast. He’s fixed in his faith because Christ is alive, death has been conquered. Jesus will build his church and the gates of hell will not prevail. And you know what, he rejoiced that he could suffer for Christ and he knew that through his suffering the gospel would be advanced and he knew as he told the Corinthians here, that, “Nothing we do for Christ and nothing we lose for his sake is ever lost.” Let’s move on. Be enthused. I can sense enthusiasm this morning. It’s Korea. You started up the hill at 6:15. Here it is because you see, happy is the people whose God is the Lord. Christians ought to be happy people. That doesn’t mean we don’t cry, doesn’t mean our hearts can’t be broken. We’re fine China like everyone else, but we get up, we keep going, we’re irrepressible.
Stedfast, always abounding in the work of the Lord. So Paul says, “Believe in the resurrection and be transformed by it. Live in the light of that event and therefore be established and be enthused” and that’s this phrase here, abounding in the work of the Lord. I love what Paul says elsewhere in Romans 12, verse 11. He says, “Don’t be lagging in diligence but fervently serve the Lord.” See, Christians don’t lag. Christians, don’t lounge about. Christians don’t loiter. Every time the sun comes up, it’s like the starting gun in a race. Off we go. We want to love God and we want to love our neighbor. We want to raise our kids in the fear and admonition of the Lord. We want to go and please the Lord in pleasing our boss at work. We want to be a blessing to the city that God has sent us to live in and the nation in which he has put us and we want to serve the purposes of his kingdom in the building of the church.
The word here, “work”. It has a broad sense. It can mean anything we dedicate to the Lord, right? Whatever you do, whether you eat or drink, you can do it to the Lord. But I think in this passage here, in verse 58, he’s dealing with the narrow sense of church work. In chapter 15 verse 10, he says, “By the grace of God, I am what I am and his grace toward me was not in vain, but I labored more abundantly than they all.” Clearly, he’s talking about his labor in missions, discipleship, church planting, preaching, teaching, serving the church. In chapter 16 verse 10, he talks about Timothy, “If Timothy comes, see that he may be with you without fear, for he does the work of the Lord as I do.” The church matters most to Christ and he wants us to give ourselves aboundingly and abundantly to it.
This word, abounding, is an interesting word. It means overflow. To give yourself fully. To do more than is demanded. It means to exceed requirement. In fact, it’s used in John 6:13, of those 12 baskets of fragments that were left over. That exceeded. That were more than was required for the 5,000 people that Jesus fed. That’s our word, over and above. And so that’s the kind of life you and I should be living, over and above. We shouldn’t kind of sink down to the average. We certainly shouldn’t sink below average. Just as the banks of a swollen river can overflow, so a life brimming with the goodness, kindness, and love of God will overflow with good works and utmost devotion. See, if you and I believe the resurrection, we’re going to be transformed by it because in the resurrection, in the death of Christ, God outdid himself.
God has given us many things but none greater than when he delivered up and spared not, his own son. Over and above. Man, look at what God has done within creation. How beautiful is it today? Don’t you love living in Southern California? It’s a beautiful place. Most prettiest state in the union. Terrible governor, but the prettiest state in the union, okay? It is, and we look around us and it’s beautiful and we see what God has done within creation. We study history and we see it’s providence, but I’ll tell you this. God, outdid himself in the sending of his son for wicked humanity and sinful man, you and me. Yeah, you’re wicked and you’re sinful. We’ve all sinned and fallen short of his glory. We’ve all taken his name in vain. We’ve all coveted stuff. We have failed to love God and our neighbor in the manner we should, but God loves us despite that and Jesus Christ came to die for our sins so that we might have a relationship with God.
God outdid him self. In fact, in Ephesians 1:7 to 8, our word abounding is translated in the NIV, “lavish”. Paul talks about how God lavished us with the riches of his grace in Christ. Now given that reality, the gospel, the death of Christ, the resurrection of Christ, God outdid himself. God went over and above. He so loved us that he sent his son. He’s spared not his one and only son. He can’t give more. He can’t do more. Given that reality, you and I ought to abound in the work of the Lord. You and I ought to outdo and overdo today what we did yesterday and then tomorrow we’ll seek to outdo and overdo what we did today because we want to be those kind of Christians that are abounding in the work of the Lord. Paul spiritually was a petal to the metal kind of guy.
Hopefully you’re that kind of Christian. In fact, that’s the only kind of Christian, those who abound in the work of the Lord. Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 5:47? He said to his disciples, “what do you more than others? See, I want you to love your enemies. See, that’s radical. See, people love those who love them. They love their family. They love their friends, but they don’t love their enemies. But you see, you can love your enemies because you were my enemy and I loved you. And I want to remind you that the gospel causes you to do more than others to be more than others. Let that be a challenge this Easter Sunday morning. Let your marriage be more than others. Let your morals and work ethic be more than others. Let your love for your neighbor be more than others. Let your kingdom service be above and beyond.
Someone has said, “Everybody is born an original but dies a copy.” Too many of us let contemporary society reduce us down to the average and that includes some of God’s people and it’s a tragedy and travesty. God save us from taking it easy. If you’ve had any thought recently about taking it easy, stop thinking that way. You need to be abounding. You need to be over and above. Life is short. Eternity is long. People are lost. The church is weak and needs strengthening. Don’t keep it decent. Are you a decent Christian? Don’t keep it decent within boundaries. Get radical. Go above and beyond. Go the second mile. If you were to describe yourself, would this be it? “Well, pastor, I pray a little, pastor, I serve a bit pastor, I give to the church some. I attend often, not all the time. I love enough.”
If that describes you, and I think that describes many of us, that’s not enough because what you’re saying is, “Pastor, and you know what? I’m not hot, but I’m not cold.” That ring a bell with anybody? I’m not hot, but I’m not cold. Jesus said, “I’d rather you be hot or cold, but I don’t want you to lukewarm. That nauseates me, turns my stomach when I look at those whom I’ve redeemed with my blood and they won’t sweat for the kingdom.” I just finished reading the life of John Blanchard. He was an evangelist in England. We’re going to give you his book on the way out should you wish a copy, Ultimate Questions. You know what his motto was? “As much as I can, as well as I can for as long as I can.” I love that. That’s the way that Christians should live.
You know what Charles Spurgeon said of George Whitfield? “Often as I read his life, I am conscious of the distinct quickening. Whenever I turned to it, he lived. Other men seemed to be only half alive, but Whitfield was all life, fire, wind, force.” That was so much the case. Did you know this, that the continental army, the Patriot army during the war of Revolution met early on in First Presbyterian church in Newbury Port, Massachusetts, and as the service unfolded and concluded, they remembered it was the burial spot of the great evangelist, George Whitfield. The man who Spurgeon said lived, was a force to reckon with. And you know what some of the soldiers did? They opened his tomb and they cut parts of his collar and cuff and coat and stuck them in their pockets hoping to draw some strength from this dynamo of a man.
It’s powerful. You and I want to be that kind of Christian. Let’s get to the last thought. You still with me? Not like you got a choice, right? Be expectant. Be expectant. This is the last point. This is a wonderful point to finish on, therefore, right? Consequently, having said all of that I’ve said, here’s what I’ve got to say. If you’re going to believe in the resurrection, let it transform you. Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing here’s your expectation. This is what you can look out for. Knowing that your labor, that above and beyond labor, that enthusiastic discipleship, that will not be in vain. That’s wonderful. Paul’s encouragement is not without motivation and the motivation comes in the form of an assurance that diligent labor for Christ is not wasted effort. In fact, Paul was to some degree answering his own anxiety.
Paul wasn’t frightened to die because that had been taken care on the resurrection. One thing did bother Paul kept him up at night and got them up in the morning was did his life count? Was he living it for the glory of Christ and would he be rewarded to the judgment seat of Christ? Right? He’ll say to this church in his second letter in chapter 5, verses 9 and 10, “Therefore, we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be pleasing to him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ that each one may receive the things done in the body according to what they have done, whether good or evil, knowing therefore the terror of the Lord. We persuade men.” That’s what bothered Paul. He wanted to know that he hadn’t run in vain. He wanted to know that his life counted.
In fact, in Philippians 2:16, first Thessalonians 2, one, he talks about that. “Tell me that the Philippines are doing well. Tell me that the Thessalonians are growing in Greece. Then I’ll know my work there was not in vain. Because I don’t want to live a life that’s empty. I want to make my life count because now counts forever.” Listen, life is a terrible thing to waste, isn’t it? What a gift life is. What potential every human life holds if it’s surrendered up to God, and follow the paths of righteousness. It’d be like a tree planted by the water that brings forth its leaf in due season. And life is a wonderful thing and because of that, it’s a terrible thing to waste. And Paul wants us to know, this is true of the Christian, that our lives linked to Christ’s life is not an exercise in futility. For me to live as Christ, to die how we live for Christ [inaudible]
All that I’ve done for him, all that I’ve sought to be for him, none of that’s lost, none of that’s wasted. Because Christ, got up that Sunday morning, you and I can get up every morning and live life to the max. I hope you do that now. You need a dog day of rest, right? Six days shall you labor and the seventh rest. We need to have rhythms of rest, but across the breadth of our lives, we get up every morning and we want to live life to the max. Our lives have focus and our lives are a force for good and whatever we dedicate to God is not in vain.. It won’t be lost.
I love these words, bear with me, from Bruce Milne. “Every kingdom work, while they’re publicly performed or privately endeavored, partakes of the kingdom’s imperishable character. Every honest intention, every stumbling word of witness, every resistance of temptation, every motion of repentance, every gesture of concern, every routine engagement, every motion of worship, every struggle toward obedience, every mumbled prayer, everything literally which flows out of our faith, relationship with the ever living one, will find its place in the everlasting kingdom.”
In the end, it will be worth it all. That’s Paul’s point. The life to come, which is the promised, born out of Christ resurrection, colors the many and often mundane tasks of every day. See, when you know Jesus, to borrow the words of the hymn writer, the grass is a sweeter green, isn’t it? And the sky is a softer blue. You see life differently. You live life differently. You’re wide awake to life because the living Christ is alive in you and he’s got a plan. He’s got a purpose for your life and that gives motion and meaning to your life. There’s so much meaninglessness isn’t there in our culture? I am burdened and broken hearted at and many young people are taking their lives because they’re drinking the poison of our universities and the media and entertainment that tells them there is no God, that they are the product of evolution.
There’s no meaning and purpose to life. There’s no direction in history. There may be moments of joy, there may be moments of exhilaration, but after a while you’ll waken up with a great sense of emptiness. As one writer said, “There’s something of the modern day profession of faith which goes, eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you die. We’re addicted to opioids and porn, and drinking and food, and one-night stands with strangers because we have been told that the resurrection isn’t real. And as a result, the beleaguered, westerner takes a seat daily in the pews of the first church of nothingness.” That describes so many, might describe you this morning.
Solomon would say, “Talk to me about it”, because if you read his book Ecclesiastes, he’ll talk about the fact that there was a time he lived his life without God under the sun and he enjoyed much beautiful women, spectacular homes, vacations, entertainment. He read the books of the greatest thinkers of his day and he woke up on the other side of that and said, “All is vanity.” Vanity, emptiness. It’s just breath. There’s nothing to it. Insubstantial. You see, life under the sun, devoid of the gospel, is a life of vanity. But Paul says, “A life marked by the gospel, a life in union and commune with Jesus Christ is a life where one’s loving and laboring is not in vain.”
We know better. As we close, we believe more than this idea that life is meaningless. The gospel is a serum. The gospel’s an antidote to the meaninglessness that marks so many. The gospel teaches us that the God who made the Son who resides above the sun came to life under the sun in the sending of His one and only Son. So that you and I, through belief in Jesus Christ, might be given the gift of eternal life, which tells us that our life under the sun is eternally significant and nothing we do is meaningless. When we love our neighbor. That’s meaningful. When we raise our kids, that’s meaningful. When you kiss the brow of a child, that’s meaningful. When you serve the Lord on a Sunday morning, it’s meaningful. When you dedicate your business and work to Jesus Christ, it’s meaningful. It’s significant, it’s eternally worthy.
Our labor is not in vain. Our work for him has a future because there is a future because of him and according to Revolution 14:13, our works will follow us. Richard Gun said, “The meaninglessness of life has been smashed in Christ. He’s alive. We, too, will live with him. Our earthly lives are therefore meaningful. Our earthly work is meaningful. Let me finish with this story. December 17th, 1912, good while ago, William Borden boarded a ship for China via Egypt. His missionary career was about to begin. Let me kind of fill in the background. William Borden was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.
He was born to an upper class family in Chicago’s Gold Coast. He was to be the heir of a fortune in real estate and milk production. There was the Borden Dairies. His mother was a Christian. She attended Moody Church. And as this young man graduated from Yale University, he was a star athlete. He was good looking. He was worth 50 million, but he’d committed his life to Christ. And at a mission’s conference in Nashville, Tennessee, he surrendered his life to missions and he shocked the world of his day. To some degree, broke his mother’s heart and sold up and sold out to Jesus Christ and committed himself to the China Inland Mission, where he was going to go and evangelize Muslims in China. But first he had to go to Egypt to study the language. The night before he leaves, his mother challenged him about whether it was the right thing to do, giving up his fortune and homeland, conveniences, putting himself in harm’s way.
In fact, it kind of shook him a little bit. He says this, “In the quiet of my room that night, worn and weary and sad, I fell asleep asking myself again and again, “Is it, after all, worthwhile?” In the morning, as I awoke, a still, small voice spoke to my heart and said, “God so loved the world that he give his one and only son.” And I think what he was saying in that is that, in the light of what God gave and did for me, he overdid it and outdid himself. Then I’m going to give myself to him. It’s a bit like CT Stud, another story of a cricketer in England. Wealthy man who gave his life to Christ and went to China, he’s famous for saying, “If Jesus Christ, be God and died for me, then no sacrifice I can make for him is too small.”
That was where William Borden was. Month after arriving in Egypt, Borden contracts spinal meningitis and within weeks is dead. Articles were written about it, stories were written about it. Was his life in vain? Evidently not. In fact, because of his story, many young people of that day offered themselves to the mission field. But the morning of his death, a note was discovered under his pillow that he had written the night before. You want to hear it? It was very simple. He wrote this on a piece of paper. “No reserve, no retreat, no regrets.” That’s a headstone, isn’t it? No reserve, no retreat, no regret. No dying man, no dying woman has ever regretted living a life for the glory of God and the honor of his son, Jesus Christ. Only one life to live. Twill soon be passed. Only what’s done for Jesus will last.
He offers you everlasting life. And if you will receive him and live your life for his glory, then all that you do is lasting and significant. There’s nothing empty or meaningless about a life dedicated to Jesus Christ. Don’t you hunger for that significance and meaning and sense of purpose and a belief that things are right with God? We invite you to trust him today. Jesus said in John 11:25 to 26, “I’m the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” That’s true of what happens after we die. And it’s also true that we live abundantly before we die because of Christ alive in us. You know, this morning, as I got up in the dark, came down the stairs, my foot touched a piece of paper that my daughter Beth had left me. There it is.
I read it. “Hallelujah. Hope is ours for the taking. Praying for you dad.” My friend, hope is ours for the taking. Won’t you take it by putting your faith in Jesus Christ?
Let’s bow our heads. Father, we thank you for our time this morning together. We thank you for this celebration of the event of Jesus’ life, death, burial, and resurrection. And you invite us to live in the light of that event and as we do, hope is found, forgiveness of sins can be possessed, meaning can be brought to a life that seems so meaningless. Even our suffering can be redemptive and purposeful as we live a life of service and sacrifice for you. So Lord, we thank you for this day and the message of the gospel. And for those of us that believe it, may we be transformed by it. May we be established. May we be enthused. May we be expectant. Help us to shift the gear. Help us to put the pedal to the metal for Jesus Christ in these days and for our loved ones who are with us today. We love them deeply. You love them more. Hope is for the taking in Jesus Christ. May they take him and in taking him, find hope. For we pray and ask this in Jesus name, Amen.