Heaven's Missionary Mindset
Heaven's Missionary Mindset
by Dr. Dan Brown
Good morning. Hasn't been that long since I've been here, so we're glad glad to see you again. I am involved in a basement renovation at my house, so I am up to my eyeballs in two by fours and wiring and plumbing and all those kind of things, soon to be in drywall.
And so it's been a busy few months. Thanks for praying for the school. Faith is off and running.
We are actually in the seminary. It's a little different than the college, but in the seminary we're 25% through the semester already, so we're not even to the end of September yet. Take your Bible, turn with me, if you will, to two Corinthians, chapter eight.
Second Corinthians, chapter eight. And we want to look at what I've entitled heaven's Missionary Mindset. Heaven's missionary mindset.
And I want to read just a few verses here. Let me start with verse one. And we'll read down through verse nine.
So two Corinthians chapter One Our text is verse nine this morning. And so let's start at two Corinthians, chapter eight, verse one. Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia, that in a great trial of affliction, the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality.
For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely, willing, imploring us with much urgency, that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, then to us by the will of God. So we urged Titus that as he had begun, so he would also complete this grace in you also.
But as you abound in everything, in faith, in speech, in knowledge and in all diligence, and in your love for us, see that you abound in this grace also. I speak not by commandment, but I am testing the sincerity of Your love by the diligence of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor.
That you, through his poverty, might become rich. Let's pray. Lord, we thank you for the blessings of Your Word, for the opportunity to open the Scriptures and to study it today.
We ask, Father, your hand of blessing in our time. We'll give you the honor and glory for what is accomplished in Jesus name we pray. Amen.
It's interesting, the passage that is before us in particular verse nine, is actually an illustration. It's not very often that you have a sermon based on an illustration. Well, Christ is the illustration in verse nine that Paul is giving, of what grace giving is like.
And so we understand that this passage is all about grace. So, for example, if you'll look with me in verse one, we have the grace of God in verse four imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift, which is actually the word grace. Here it's translated as gift.
Verse nine, we have the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Look with me. In chapter nine we have verse eight, god is able to make all grace abound toward you.
Verse 14, by their prayer for you who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God, thanks be for his indescribable gift. Grace is layered through this passage, and the passage is actually chapter eight. And chapter nine is actually about finances.
It's actually about teaching us by not only the example of the Macedonians as they gave a financial gift, but it's also intending to teach us what giving is like to the Lord. And how do we give with grace and how do we understand that that giving is not because of our grace, but it is because of the grace that we have received from the Lord Jesus Christ? As we have received grace, so we are to distribute grace to others. Verse nine, actually, I think is an illustration.
Paul is talking about how to give and he actually, in verse nine, actually gives us an illustration. This is a little unusual because generally we think of the scriptures teaching us about Christ, and then usually the preacher has to supply the illustration, or oftentimes the illustration is something else. But here the story-line of these two chapters is giving, but the illustration is Christ as he was given.
And so it's really a picture of heaven and of God the Father and God the Son who gave Christ to us. That's the grace gift. Christ is the grace gift.
And so that really is heaven's thinking about us in a way that would bless us, that would bestow on us something that we do not have. Now, when we talk about grace, we think grace, there's a theological definition. Grace is unmerited favor.
In other words, you can't own, you can't work for, you can't deserve grace. If you do something that you earn, for example, you go to work, I assume that you do something that's beneficial to the company, you go to work and you earn a paycheck. They are not giving you grace, they are giving you what you have earned.
Grace is God's gift to us. That is unmerited, it is undeserved. I like the acrostic grace, G-R-A-C-E-I think there's a lot to this g.
God's riches at Christ's expense, grace. I think there's a lot of merit in understanding grace in that terms. And so we understand that grace is our highest motivation.
It is apart from duty and obligation and legalism, it is all that is lovely and beautiful and good and glorious grace. And so we have in this verse nine, we have this wonderful illustration of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. And so I want to just walk through this very briefly this morning and help us to understand the illustration in verse nine really speaks to our lives.
So it begins by describing his incredible wealth, his incredible wealth of Christ. Verse nine. You know how the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich though he was rich, well, we don't often think of heaven, we don't often think of God in terms of richness.
And yet that is how here he is described in verse nine. We do understand that when we are trying to deal with really the understanding of the wealth of the richness of God, words are difficult to find. Yet we're still going to try, we're still going to try to find some words to do that.
I want you to think with me. I'm going to turn to Colossians, chapter one. You don't need to look there, but I'm going to turn to Colossians, chapter one.
And I want you to read, listen to the Scripture description of Jesus Christ and what his wealth is like. Colossians, chapter one, verse 15. He Christ is the image of the invisible God, the first born over all creation.
For by Him that's Christ all things were created that are in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers, all things were created through Him and for Him. And he is before all things and in Him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the Church, who is the beginning, the firstborn of the dead, that in all things he may have the preeminence.
Did you count the words all in that passage? I count five different times when Christ is the supreme head, leader, controller, creator of all things. Look with me just very briefly and again, you don't need to turn but Hebrews chapter one. Hebrews, chapter one.
Look at the description here of Christ. Hebrews chapter one and verse verse two. Speaking of Christ.
And verse two. God has in these last days spoken to us by His Son whom he has appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the worlds who Christ being in the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person and upholding all things by the word of his power when he had by himself purged our sins sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. This is just beginning to get us to understand the richness that Christ had.
And let me suggest four specific areas that we can think about the wealth of our Lord Jesus Christ. First of all, he was wealthy in his person. He had all glory, all honor, all love.
The idea of glory is even in Corinthians. We read about the eternal weight of glory which was Jesus Christ, and understand that in his person is the perfections of God. Not only that.
Secondly, in his possession he was rich in his person, but also in his possessions. All creation was his. He created all creation.
We used to sing a song. I don't know if we've sung it in years, but he owns the cattle on a thousand hills. Well, he doesn't just own the cattle on a thousand hills.
He owns the thousand hills as well. All of it is his. He was wealthy.
Thirdly, in his position, he was the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. There is no one who has a greater position of richness and wealth. And fourthly, he was wealthy in his power, unlimited power.
We use the term omnipotent all powerful. Christ was capable of anything that he could imagine. In fact, he spoke and the worlds came into existence.
I don't know if you have a hard time buying a gift for dad. What do you give to a man that you think has everything? Do you get him another tie? Do you get him sometimes we get known for collecting one thing or another. And so then it becomes maybe a little easier because you buy something that's in their collection.
My kids sometimes have a hard time buying a gift for me, and so they know that I like to golf. And so I have a particular brand of golf ball that I enjoy. And it's not cheap.
It's not a cheap golf ball. And so they have begun over the last few years to kind of pull together and they get me a dozen of these expensive golf balls. What do you give to someone who has everything? Well, what do you give Christ, who when we say wealthy, we're not talking Warren Buffett kind of wealth.
We're talking he not only is the possessor of all things, he was the creator of all things. Verse nine says that though he was rich that though he was rich secondly, verse nine says, though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor. And so I want to see secondly this morning, his intentional poverty.
His intentional poverty. And what we are dealing with here is to understand that this is the nature of the grace of God. Christ does not become poor for what he could get out of it.
Now, understand that God, the Son in eternity past, possessed and in his person and in his nature, in his power, had everything that it is possible to possess. And yet he gave those things up. He became poor for you and for me.
And it's not because somehow it made him better or somehow it improved his status. When you are sitting as God in Heaven, there is nowhere to go up. There is nowhere to be more enhanced.
But for our sake, he became poor. Well, let's just think about that poverty. Let's just engage a little bit of understanding what that poverty actually looked like.
Well, first of all, he became poor. In humanity, we use the term incarnation. We use the term incarnation.
And in his incarnation, we understand that Philippians chapter two, he took upon the form of a servant. Now, that is what is described in the Christmas Story. We love to tell the Christmas story.
Well, the Christmas story is about God, who in all of his perfections lays aside not his nature. He's still God, but he lays aside some of the involuntarily, lays aside some of the attributes so that he can enter into humanity. I mean, it's an amazing thing that God became man, and in this he even lays aside some of his glory.
Do you realize that when Christ became man, he laid aside some of his glory? Look with me, look with me in John. Keep your finger here. But in John chapter 17, john, chapter 17, here's Christ at the end of his life, almost ready for the cross.
John, chapter 17. This is what we sometimes call the High Priestly Prayer of Christ. Notice what he says, praying now to the Father.
He says in verse five and now, O Father, glorify me together with yourself with the glory which I had with you before the world was one of the things that Christ, in his humanity, in his becoming poor was the glory that was his by divine right that was laid aside while he was in human flesh. Flesh? The transfiguration. There's a drawing back of the curtain where they could see the glory of Christ for just a brief time.
But understand that there is this self emptying of Christ into humanity. Christ does not do while he is on the earth. He does not do his own will.
He does not speak his own words. He does not do his own will and words understand, Christ says, I come to do the will of the Father, not my own will, but the will of the Father. I speak not my own words, but I speak the words of the Father.
Christ said, I don't do my own work, but I do the work of the Father. And in fact, in Hebrews five eight, Christ even says it even says of Him that he learned obedience, one of the great mysteries of the Incarnation. But in humanity, Christ leaves the glories of heaven and becomes a man.
He steps into humanity. Not only in humanity was he poor, but also in possessions. But he was poor in possessions.
Matthew 820 tells us that the birds of the air have homes. The fox, they've got a place to go live. But the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, had nowhere to lay his head.
He was born in a rented stable, and he was buried in a borrowed grave. It is never recorded that he owned property that he ever used money. He apparently owned only the clothes that were on his back.
He was poor in possessions, but not only that. Thirdly, he was poor in sin. He was poor in sin.
So look with me, if you will. We're in two Corinthians, so just go over one page, if you will, to chapter five. In fact, in my Bible, it's only one page.
And read as I read verse 21. Two. Corinthians five.
Verse 21. For he that's God the Father made him that's God the Son, Christ, who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in him. Now, to become sin is not an advantageous position to be in to be accounted as having the sin of the world.
Listen. Your sin, my sin was placed on Christ, and he became sin for us. In becoming sin, he suffered our hell.
He was made a curse for you. He bore your sin so that you might have eternal life. Christ was poor in that he took on sin.
But there is also Christ being poor in that he took on death. Fourthly, in death, he is poor. In Philippians, chapter two, verse eight, we read he was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, even the shame and the curse that was to die on the cross.
Christ did that for us. He who was rich, he had this immense wealth. He intentionally became poor so that he could bear the sins of many.
And I want to encourage you today to understand the price that was paid by Christ himself. Now, before we go on, I want to ask a question. This is a pause.
This pause. Just I want you to think just for a moment. How many of you this is a personal reflection question, but feel free to respond if you'd like.
How many of you would say that you are rich? We have we're thinking about it. We're thinking about it. How many of you say it? Well, are we going to pull out? Checkbooks and compare? Checkbooks.
Okay. I want you to think about this with me for a moment because there is thirdly in this passage. The third thing we want to look at is our inherent poverty.
He says in verse nine, he was rich, yet for your sake, he became poor. And the point of that phrasing, for your sake, there is an implied reality of our own poverty. For your sake.
Our poverty. What is our poverty? Well, our poverty is in sin and in guilt. And like his poverty in becoming sin and in dying, that is where we live.
That is who we are by nature. We are sinners by nature. And we have all died in sin thanks to our relationship with a fallen race.
But because of our own sinfulness and our own persons, we today are inherent in inherent poverty. You and there must be an understanding of our pitiness in self esteem, in importance and righteousness. We bring nothing to the table spiritually before God.
Nothing. There is no value. I think of Matthew, chapter five, verse three, one of the Beatitudes.
Blessed are the poor in spirit that's not blessed are the poor. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God. Blessed are those who actually understand that their spiritual condition is such that we can bring nothing of value to the God who is rich, who has all things, who is holy and righteous, we who are in our poverty.
It used to be it used to be when you went bankrupt, you lost everything. Now they've got it figured out where you could go bankrupt, and you don't lose everything. In fact, I was living in New Jersey.
Pastoring in New Jersey, and Donald Trump lived in New Jersey. Now, this is long before Donald Trump, the politician Donald Trump went bankrupt in his business, and the judge gave him a settlement. And I've forgotten exactly the amount of money, but it was in the hundreds of thousands of dollars that he was going to get per month in his bankruptcy settlement.
And I thought, wow, I need to go bankrupt. If I could just go bankrupt like Donald Trump goes bankrupt, well, then I'd be in pretty good shape. That is not the kind of bankrupt that we are spiritually you and I are spiritually bankrupt before the Lord.
We can bring nothing. There is no monthly settlement. We are completely and totally corrupt in our spiritual life.
Our inherent poverty. Romans, chapter three, describes what that corruption is like, where we decided to worship the creation instead of the Creator. Ephesians, chapter two, describes what it is to be dead in trespasses and sins.
We have nothing in and of ourselves that can merit the favor of God. That's why it's grace, because it's unmerited our inherent poverty. And then we have in this verse, coming back now to two, Corinthians, chapter eight, verse nine, it says that you, through his poverty, might become rich.
So we have here a statement of our immense wealth. Our immense wealth through his poverty, through remember, what is his poverty? His poverty is becoming a man entering into the human race. His poverty is the taking on and becoming sin for us.
His poverty is the death that he died, the shedding of his blood. That poverty of his is what enables us to be rich. Now, let me suggest several aspects in which you today, if you know Christ as your Savior, that you're rich.
Let me suggest a few areas. Number one is the possession of eternal life. You have a future home in heaven.
Now, I don't know what your home is like on this earth. Maybe you live in your own place. Maybe you live in a rented place.
Maybe you don't even have a place. But there is the guarantee, if we know Christ as our Savior, that Christ is preparing a place for us in heaven. We have the promise, the possession of eternal life.
Number two is we are partakers of the divine nature. We are partakers of the divine nature. Two Peter, chapter one, by which we have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature.
Having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. That doesn't mean we become little gods. But what it does mean is that in particular, that the Spirit of God is in our lives and through our lives, we are partakers of the divine nature.
Number three same verse talks about the promises of Scripture. We have the availability of receiving from God not just things, because that's not what the Gospel is about. But it is about receiving the Scriptures.
It's receiving the word of God. It's the precious promises that are built into the Scriptures. The promise of Scripture, number four, has to do with power, has to do with the presence of the Holy Spirit in our life.
Acts one eight after you are witnesses, you will receive power. After that the Holy Spirit has come upon you. Number five, there is an inheritance.
We are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. It's absolutely amazing that we are in the will, if you will. We are part of what Christ will have in his inheritance.
And then we also have this message. We have the Gospel, we have this blessing of something to tell other people, listen, we who were poor in our sin, we who are dead in our spiritual life, dead in trespasses and sins, we can through Christ be made rich. So let me ask you today, I asked you a little bit earlier, are you rich? Are you rich today? If you know Christ as your Savior, there is within inherently within the Christian life, there is what two Corinthians eight nine describes as wealth has nothing to do with your bank balance, has nothing to do with the kind of job that you have or don't have.
It has to do with your spiritual life. I want to finish today with really what is our implied responsibility. This verse gives us really an obligation to fulfill.
Now remember the context, the context of verse nine is this is an illustration of God. Sending Christ as a grace gift didn't benefit God, but it benefits us. That is an illustration of financial liberality, of financial giving.
That's what the two chapters are about. And the point is that we should follow the example of Christ. If Christ has been given as a grace gift for the benefit of salvation, then we have an obligation to follow that same example of Christ and to give financially.
This isn't the only time we are told to follow the example of Christ. Ephesians five two we are to walk in love, walk in love as Christ also loved us. We are to follow his example of forgiveness.
Ephesians 3:13 forgiving one another, even as Christ forgave you. We are to be like Christ in our attitude. Philippians two five, let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.
And so here it is, an illustration of how we are to be like Christ and follow what Christ has done. We are to give of ourselves as Christ gave. There is a lesson here not only of the person of Christ.
Yes, the person of Christ is taught here, but this is also a lesson of salvation. It's a lesson of how we come to Christ. If you're here this morning and you do not know Christ as your Savior, you today can receive from Christ the forgiveness of sin.
And you can be a partaker in, yes, the riches of salvation, in the riches that are Christ. But it's also a lesson of giving. It's a lesson of financial giving.
And I would say to you, if Christ gave so much, folks, we have an obligation to give as well. We have an obligation to give generously to the Lord. Look with me in chapter nine, verse 15 here's, talking about finances, you read the read the chapters and you'll see the financial emphasis in these chapters.
But look at chapter nine, verse 15. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift. What's that indescribable gift? Christ.
Because of Christ's gift, we are who we are today. We are able to give generously to the Lord. We are able to share generously with others, even of our material goods, as well as the Gospel.
Let me encourage you today that though Christ was rich, yet he became poor, so that we, in our poverty, might be made rich. Let's pray. Father, we thank you today for the blessing of the Gospel, for the blessing of Jesus Christ, for the privilege that is ours to be a partaker in the wealth of the Gospel, to be able to be redeemed and to be counted as the redeemed for eternity.
We rejoice in the goodness of God and in the grace that he's given. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.