Note:- These are the outline notes of the sermon The Ultimate Purpose is to become like Christ delivered at City Revival Ministries, Kuala Lumpur on 09/04/2016 7PM. You can contact me here for any clarifications, doubts or corrections. This is subject to change anytime and will be updated if needed. You may share this link to others. Praying that this will minister to you and may these notes be a blessing to many. In Christ, Donny
Bible Portion for Meditation
11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ Ephesians 4: 11-13
What is the greatest purpose of our life? Yes, we may have many answers. But, if we look from the Father’s perspective, He has this main purpose for us, that is to become like Christ. When we become more and more like Christ, Father will be much pleased. This is the ultimate purpose for our lives-to become like Christ.
If we closely observe the above portion, we can draw the following conclusions
- God gave some to be APOSTLES, some PROPHETS, EVANGELISTS, PASTORS and TEACHERS in the church (ie His Body)
- For two reasons – for the equipping of saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ
- Till we reach – the Unity of Faith, Knowledge of the Son of God
- To a PERFECT MAN, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ
Or in one simple sentence, to make us a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
How simple and powerful truth. God has given us all the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers for this ultimate purpose, ie to become like Christ. This is the main purpose underlying all the work in the body of Christ. When this becomes ‘our’ ultimate goal, everything which happens in our lives makes sense, because there is some work going on in our lives by God himself, to make us more like Christ.
Isn’t it that amazing!
When the world looks at us, they should see Christ in us! That is the desire of the Father.
You know what, when we fail to recognize this, we miss the purpose of our lives. We should see each and every challenge as a potential opportunity to practice Christ likeness. That’s when we grow unto Christ.
v15 says, “may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ”
IN ALL THINGS
UNTO JESUS, THE HEAD
simply means, we should grow unto Christ, the head, which means becoming Christlike is our ultimate goal.
If we grow spiritually what is the maximum that we can grow? The perfection is that when we become exactly like Christ. Is that possible? Yes, Bible says yes!
When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?” 26 And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matt 19: 26
Also, in Matt 5, it says,
48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Satan wants to convince us that this is impossible, but God tells us that this is possible. Therefore, train yourself to think like this, “I can become perfect like Christ, even in this wicked world. God will help me to attain this” Do you believe it? The moment you admit, that you cannot do by your own strength, but by His grace it is possible, you start to grow in all unto Christ. Spiritual growth is one of the most important factor in the life of a disciple. Do you want to grow?
Now let’s see three categories of people
Spiritual man, Carnal man and Natural man
And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; 3 for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal? I cor 3: 1- 4
Paul writes to the Corinthian church, that he was unable to speak to them as ‘spiritual people’, but to as ‘carnal people’. What is the difference?
If we analyse the above portion, we can note down the specialties of Spiritual and Carnal person
- Babes in Christ (they are not mature)
- They are unable to eat solid food
- They always need milk
- There were envy, strife and divisions
- They were behaving like mere men (Natural man)
- There were group-ism among them (Some following Paul, some Apollos)
Paul says, you are ‘still carnal’, which means Paul expected a spiritual growth in the church, but they were still carnal unable to grow spiritually.
Now, we need to do a self-examination, whether we belong to this category! If we are unable to grow spiritually, these could be the reasons. Ask the Holy Spirit to help us to progress in our spiritual journey.
Paul says, “are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?” The lowest standard is to behave like ordinary people, or a natural person. What does it mean? Paul never expected them to behave like ordinary people, because they were born again and are God’s children chosen from the world, so they are never supposed to behave like non-believers. Strife, envy, divisions – these are all the common worldly pattern, God’s children are above all those. We belong to the ‘chosen ones’, a ‘royal priesthood’, and a ‘holy nation’. We are saints! Behave like saints!
What is the peculiarity of a natural person?
In the previous chapter, Paul explains about natural people.
14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. I Cor 3:14, 15
- Natural person does not receive the things of the Spirit of God
- Natural person considers the things of God, as foolishness
- Natural person does not know the spiritual things
- Natural person cannot discern spiritually
Who are these natural people? One who doesn’t know God or who are not saved! They are people of this world. They never knew God in person.
Then who are the real spiritual ones?
15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.
- Spiritual person judges all things (or discerns all things)
- Spiritual person is rightly judged by no one else
What I understand is this- A spiritual person knows his own self, he know who he is, where is he going wrong, what needs to be corrected, what is to be done. He discerns and judges himself. He has good self-control (The fruit of the Spirit). He has good communication with the Holy Spirit.
Now if we take all the negative traits of Natural person and Carnal person, and put it under spiritual person, how will it look like?
- Mature in Christ (no more babes)
- They are able to eat solid food
- They can digest solid food
- When envy, strife and divisions arise, they make peace
- They will never behaving like mere men, but will express Christ-likeness in whatever they do
- There are againts group-ism. They follow Christ, and not people
- They receive the things of the Spirit of God
- They considers the things of God, as wisdom
- They know the spiritual things
- They can discern spiritually
- They can judges all things (or discerns all things)
- They are rightly judged by no one else
Now, all these qualities are in Christ and is the ULTIMATE perfection which is to be attained. Let’s be honest! In which category do we belong to? Be willing to admit it, and confess the sins, and be willing to change and become more like Christ.
How does spiritual progress happens?
A spiritual person is not a person who has completely grown into a perfect person, instead he is on his way to perfection. In other words, a spiritual person will always keep growing. Carnal person is a person who was once spiritual, but the growth has stopped in between, and is having a stunted growth.
Therefore, the essence of a spiritual person is that, he will progress in the spiritual journey.
Now let us do a self examination! Are we truly growing? How do we know? Within this last one year, how far have grown in the ‘knowledge of Christ’? How far we have grown in ‘Christ likeness’? Are we able to forgive others? Is there envy and bitterness in our hearts? Are we still unable to control anger? Are we still unable to control the words? We need to do a self-examination often to keep check of the spiritual status. Are you interested in keeping a check on your growth? Then, it is a good sign that you are growing.
An important factor in Spiritual growth
34 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. Mark 8: 34-35
Here, Jesus tells about an important principle.
What does this mean? The moment we decide to follow Christ, problems come. It can be categorized into three terms – TEST, TEMPTATION and TRIBULATION.
When we are willing to go through these, we suffer. And as a result, our self will be literally crushed. We lose our so called ‘self-image’, and our ‘ego’ will be destroyed and we come to a point that we no longer exists as ‘SELF’. This is the point where Christ starts to build His image in us. Exactly, as the Potter molds the clay. If we are unwilling to suffer, Christ cannot mold us, and our growth becomes stunt.
Sadly, many Christians fail to recoginize this divine process, and hence when they are going through tough situations in life, they easily give up and pray to God to remove the cup of suffering. But, as spiritual person, we need to pray like Jesus prayed, ‘Father, if it is willing, remove this cup of suffering, nevertheless, not my will but Your will be done’.
It really grieves the heart of God, when we fail to recognize His divine process of molding us.
DENYING SELF is the step to SPIRITUAL PROGRESS.
For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it
Dying for the sake of Christ is worth it! Living a life of dying for Christ, is the time when we actually start growing. Lord, please help us to understand this.
Stumbling blocks as Stepping stones
Joseph had a great God given destiny. David was first put in the pit by his own family. (Remember, the first persecution may start from our own family). But Joseph didn’t give up but trusted in God. Hence it became an opportunity to be sold as slave to Egyptians. Again, in Egypt, he was faithful, hence he became the supervisor in Potiphar’s house. There, he was falsely accused for adultery, but He still was faithful to God. He was put in prison. There also he was faithful to God. He got promotion in the prison as supervisor. Even though he was punished without a cause, He still considered God as faithful, and trusted in God. He knew very well that God will allow all things to work together for his good. There he learned to interpret dreams, and finally interpreted the dream of the King, and was promoted to the Prime Minister of Egypt, got married to a beautiful wife, ruled the land of Egypt.
You know Joseph did? He used the stumbling blocks as the stepping stones to His God given destiny. When you are focused on God and your desire is to do the right thing, no matter what obstacle satan puts in your way, if you are faithful to God, God will make sure that those ‘very obstacles’ becomes your reason for your promotion. Do you believe that?
As a spiritual person, we need to identify the ways of God, and how He works in our lives. If we recognize this, every problem which satan puts in our life, God will eventually turn all things for God.
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8: 28
Satan thought that Jesus failed when he was crucified, but God is brilliant. He used that very cross to defeat satan.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55: 8-9
As a result
5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
When Christ emptied Himself, God exalted Him and gave Him the Name which is above every name. This is the prototype for a believer. When we lose it for the sake of Christ, that’s when we are actually gaining.
So how to go through the suffering, the ‘self denial’ process?
This is a simple principle, yet difficult to understand. May the Holy Spirit help us understand this.
Whenever we are going through suffering, tribulation, temptation or trials, we need to do 4 things
Be willing to suffer (I Peter 4:1)
Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin.
Get more close to Jesus, and ask Him how to react, as He has already gone through similar situations (Heb 4: 15)
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.
Be focused on eternal reward (Matt 5: 10, 11, 12)
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Know that it is to train us to comfort others going through the same situation (2 Cor 1: 3-4)
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
Compare yourselves with the suffering of Christ, then yours become nothing (I Cor 10:13)
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
Let me give you few examples
- When you go through Humiliation, remember Christ being God himself was treated like an animal when he was crucified. Will your humilation reach this much?
- When you go through False Accusation, remember Christ was put upon wrong accusation and punished by court, even though it was not proved
- When you go through Rejection, remember Christ was rejected by his own family and people
- When you go through unfair treatment, remember Christ was treated like a criminal being innocent
- When you are not given proper reputation or respect, remember Christ being God, was not recognized by the Jews to be the Messiah
- When you are denied opportunities, remember Jesus was cast out of the synagogue being the Great Scholar
- When you are going through betrayal experience, remember Christ was betrayed by his own disciple
- and the list never ends
Remember, you can never reach the humiliation Christ had to face. You can never be punished like Christ, because He never did any sin. You can never reach the point where Christ humbled himself, because being God, emptying Himself to become a mere man is beyond human understanding.
What am I trying to say? Jesus is always ahead of you in terms of suffering and pain. He can empathize with you easily. So all you need to do is to trust him in your suffering, and respond as Christ did! That’s when we become like Christ.
Remember! Jesus was the first One!
“If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first”. John 15: 18
“You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved. Matt 10: 22
Now what do you say?
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. I Thess 5: 16-18
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8: 28
Therefore, say “Thank You Jesus” in all circumstances, knowing that God makes it for good. That’s how yuo grow spiritually to become like Christ. Finally the day will come when the Father says, “You are my beloved son/daughter in whom I am well pleased”. Let’s wait for that glorious moment! God bless you.